Dear Peterborough Players Family,
It is not an overstatement to say that theatres in this country are in a perilous time. It seems like every week I hear of another closure. The 20+ year old Triad Stage in North Carolina, 46-year-old San Diego Repertory Theatre, 56-year-old Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and 33-year-old Book It Theatre in Seattle are among the 30+ regional theatres that have closed in the last 18 months.
Why are so many theatres closing, and what can we do to prevent it from happening to our beloved Peterborough Players? Unsurprisingly, a lot stems from the pandemic. Most U.S. theatres are non-profits operating on extremely thin margins in the best of times. The forced closures sent many into financial crises, only partially propped up by federal relief funds. Those resources are gone, and audiences have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Meanwhile, expenses have been skyrocketing. Material costs continue to rise at alarming rates, and the very structure of how theatres operate is evolving. For decades, theatres have often produced at the expense of the people creating the shows, who have routinely been asked to work extremely long, grueling hours for very little or no pay. How can theatre as an institution survive if the very people who create it can’t pay their own bills?
The Players have been driving progress in the field, adjusting our production schedules to create a more sustainable model that prioritizes the welfare of our artists, technicians, and staff. We are at the forefront of the industry, demonstrating that it is possible to produce beautiful, engaging, entertaining theatre without exploiting the people who create it.
As we celebrate our 90th year, our existence can’t be taken for granted. Our wonderful Artistic Director Tom Frey and I have over 30 years of love and respect for the Peterborough Players and the Monadnock Region between us. We know the importance of our playhouse to the community and the theatre world at large. We are ready to meet the moment and lead the Players into the next 90 years. But those of us at the end of Hadley Road can’t do it without your help. Can you make a tax deductible donation now to help ensure we’re here to serve the Monadnock region for years to come?
What would Our Town be without the Peterborough Players? We are integral members of the region and a source of art and community. But with ticket sales covering less than 30% of our expenses, we need your support. To help us continue to grow and evolve, expanding our offerings and season with special one-night events, more programming for children, including our new Players Junior classes, exciting new plays, engaging talkbacks, and so much more.
Please don’t delay. We need your support now, before we are in crisis. We all have different means, but as you are deciding how much you will donate, please think about all the theatres that are closing across the country and what that means for those communities: the loss of local business, culture, and art. The shared experience of live theatre is powerful. Help us preserve it.
As I am writing this letter, we are getting ready for opening night of our second show, and the energy in the air is absolutely electric. Theatre is the ultimate team sport - we only succeed when we all work together. That’s when the real magic happens! Please join us in our goal to remain on the leading edge of theatres in this country and being a vital part of the Monadnock Region for years to come.
Thank you in advance for your consideration and generous contribution at whatever level is right for you. I hope to see you in the Barn on Hadley Road very soon.
Director of Production
A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches
it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.
Dear Peterborough Players Family,
It’s an honor to be writing to you as we celebrate the Peterborough Players’ 90th year. How extraordinary is what Edith Bond Stearns started in the Hadley Barn in 1933?!
Though she hardly ever allowed a photo, I can vividly remember my “Aunt Edith’s” smile that could light up a room and she’s sure smiling down on us now!
I have no memory of not being a Peterborough Player since my first summer here was when I’d just turned one. My mom, Rosanna Cox entered that magical barn as an apprentice in 1939 only 6 years after Johnny Stearns mucked out the place and built a stage. My first memories were the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd in the barn. Mom was then the leading lady here during her more than 50 years of doing wonderful roles on this stage.
As I grew up, I learned so much by watching her and her fellow thespians and feeling that extraordinary love affair, that energy exchange with the audience, that magic. It was so exciting and, chomping at the bit when director Jimmy Welch offered me a juicy child lead at age 8, I was off and running.
Like it did for my mom and me, the Peterborough Players experience sparked the imagination and careers of so, so many and that special compact between audience and Players strengthened with the talent it attracted and collective good will year after year. And it still does.
Mom loved to describe her early days of discovery and opportunity at the Players.
I came of age at The Players and I felt that same magic. When I lunched with James Whitmore in Malibu, he described the same thing, as did William Hurt when I worked with him on Broadway…the same from Robert Morse when Mom and I talked with him backstage after his Tony winning performance in Tru...same from Tom Moore and Chuck Morey and so many others, even those whose entire experience in theater may have been only one summer as an apprentice in the barn.
The extended Players family always remark about that magical feeling and their gratitude for it. That’s why so many of us return. We just have to get back to where we once belonged. I married my wife Sarah here and buried my dear mom here last summer.
There’s something about this place, something one can’t really define, something uniquely nourishing to the soul, transformational, indelible. Players and audience members have felt that since the 30’s. When James Whitmore mentored me as a young actor, we talked about the rush of creative energy, fellowship, and pure fun we had both felt in different decades at the Players. He smiled and whispered with emotion, “The sap was running.” And the sap is still running.
Actors can be guides, shamans. They take you to new places, remind us of truths. Fine theater can open our souls, enhance our beings. An experience in the theater can be life changing. The ritual of coming to a theater, sitting down and being transported by a storyteller is as old as mankind.
The Players in Our very special Town is an especially good place for that. It has stood the test of time and evolved into possibly the finest summer theater in the nation and an invaluable cultural resource in winter as well.
The consequences of the pandemic have been profound on our theater. Now more than ever as the Players works to rebuild audiences, the theater needs our help to meet the challenges of continuing to produce exceptional, professional theater.
Please join me in making a gift today to ensure that this special place survives and thrives for many decades to come.
On this special occasion of our 90th year, let's celebrate this amazing theater together with great pride. Here’s to our inimitable, visionary founder EBS and all the Peterborough Players over the past nine decades as we move forward in a new auspicious era with Tom Frey.
How lucky we are! Peterborough Players is an extraordinary gift to us all.
Peterborough Player since 1956
We are “As rich in having such a jewel
As twenty seas, if all their sand were pearl,
The water nectar, and the rocks pure gold."
Year End 2022
Dear Peterborough Players Family,
Tom Frey sat across from me in the studio in midtown Manhattan, spring of 2019. It was the end of my audition for 2 Pianos, 4 Hands. I’d just performed scenes from the script, played a Chopin waltz, and tackled the first few pages of the Bach concerto.
It became what felt like a sacred space as Tom spoke: “So— why do you want to do this play?” Not a question I’m used to hearing at an audition, a frank query about the material itself. But apparently, I was itching to answer it.
I still don’t remember everything I said … Something about wanting to be a part of stories that I truly care about. Something about being able to lend to the show while also to learn from it. I shared that I suspected the show might even be beyond my abilities — something I was not planning to admit in front of people whose task it was to cast an able actor for the part.
But it was when I spoke of what I saw at the heart of the story that there seemed to be a held breath shared among us: this show was about being really good at something, but possibly “not good enough.” As an artist living and working in New York, that’s a feeling I’ve known well. For a moment in time, it felt like we in the room all pondered our own relationship with that human emotion: self-doubt. But what it sparked was a conversation about how we challenge ourselves as artists, and how a play about stepping into that is triumphant.
I was fortunate to begin to work with Tom. Together with my colleague Jefferson McDonald, the three of us have now collaborated on three productions of 2 Pianos 4 Hands pre-pandemic at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, this past summer at Peterborough Players, and most recently at the Mayfield Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta. Tom has welcomed me into this adventure of a lifetime.
And it is no small deal to me that - by way of his vision and direction - one of my dreams has come to pass: to play the Emcee in Cabaret. For years I’ve wanted to explore that role, and I shared that with Tom. A few months later, he invited me to do it at the Players as the show that would welcome audiences back to performances beneath the rafters of the barn.
When I arrived in early June, I started to understand how rare a gem the Peterborough Players really is. The staff, volunteers, and interns welcomed me as if I were an old friend and part of the family. That kind of nurturing is something that can too often be missing from the Business of Theatre. This was a home, a place for me to delve into my artistry, where I was trusted and celebrated. I felt safe to go big and sink my soul into that story.
I remember our sitzprobe for Cabaret (the day when the cast first gets to sing live with the orchestra), when love itself seemed to pour out from the walls of Rehearsal Hall. Several of us were literally crying at the quality of the incredible musicianship embodied by the superb musicians that the Players brought together. That day solidified the fact that we were all a part of something special, here at this intimate theater tucked away in rural New Hampshire.
You don’t really know what to expect on an acting contract until you’re physically present at the theater. A theater may be prestigious, but that does not guarantee a positive experience. It boils down to the people and the energy. It’s hard to articulate this precisely, but there is a glow about Peterborough, never lacking a friendly face or kind words to remind us of what a gift it is to be a performer. Here at the Players, joy is both a focus and a reward.
I won’t ever forget how warm and loyal you, the audience, were — so many of you have been seeing shows at the Players for years, even decades. You clearly, dearly care about the work happening in the barn. Thank you. And the Second Company is second to none; I really cannot emphasize enough how the vitality and hard work of these young artists uplifts and sustains the work that is produced by the Players. It’s refreshing!
Every day as I drove to and from the theatre through the rising and falling hills – the scenery dappled in sunlight or shadowed beneath a regal moon – I felt my battery recharge amidst the land, its people, and this company.
It is with honor and humility that I ask you to consider making a gift to the Peterborough Players’ at this especially important time. The Players has made a profound impact on my life and my artistic journey, as I know it has on so many others’. A place with such heart is an unmistakable treasure. Let’s keep this tradition going strong for the next 90 years and beyond.
With love and respect,
Member of the Acting Company
PS - Here’s to the telling of more stories in the barn, more laughter and tears, more of the magic that brings us all together in the dark and the light of theatre.
Dear Peterborough Players Family,
In the early months of 2021, like so many of us, I was taking a good hard look at my life and contemplating what I wanted next.
I was very seriously reconsidering my career in the theater. Did I want to become a florist as I had always thought I would when I was a little girl? (Even though I find it very difficult to keep a plant alive…) Did I want to spend more energy on writing? (I did finish a third draft of my Young Adult novel that I’m writing. That an agent wants me to rewrite in the first person. But that’s for another letter.)
And then, in April of 2021, my dear friend, Tom Frey, sent me a simple e-mail. The subject line said, “Hello! And a Question.” In the body of the email Tom wrote, “I have a project I wonder if you’d be interested in directing.” And everything shifted into focus.
Many of you may not know me, as I am relatively new to the Players. Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ilyse Robbins. I directed and choreographed Beehive: The 60’s Musical on the beautiful new outdoor Elsewhere Stage last season during the Grand Restart. This season I had the honor of choreographing Cabaret alongside that friend of mine Tom Frey and the fantastic music director, Jenny Kim-Godfrey. I also directed the Second Company in The Emperor’s New Clothes with young artists who are the future of theater - and it has been an honor to work with them.
As John Jacobs, founder of the Life is Good company says, I don’t have to go to work - I get to go to work. That’s what Peterborough Players has done for me at a critical time in my life/career.
When Beth Brown asked me to write this letter my first thought was, “Why me? The Players family, outside of the rehearsal room, barely knows me.” Then I remembered Beth greeting me the first time I reentered the building this season, “Welcome home.”
I realized that in a very short time, this place truly has become home to me, that we
are all part of the same family, and we all care so much about this place and the incredible
theater it produces each season. And that we all want this home to return to each season.
So here it is - my request that you can only make of family. If you are able, won’t
you please make a donation to the Peterborough Players now?
There are so many good causes out there, I know. I hope that you consider the
Players one of them. It is a place that gives so much. The Peterborough Players nurtures
young artists; it gives the gift of joyful, thought-provoking, and important stories to its
audiences; and it breathes new life into theater-makers who thought they had nothing
left to share.
I hope to meet you in the lobby or on the grass by Elsewhere Stage!
With sincere gratitude,
PS – I just had the great good pleasure of working with Matt McGloin as the Emcee in
our production of Cabaret. If you saw it - you already know. If you didn’t (and if you did)
- don’t miss him in 2 Pianos 4 Hands coming up August 4 – 14. You’ll be able to say you
saw him when!
We live in a special place. I’ll bet we share a love of many of the same wonderful opportunities this area offers to fulfill and enrich our lives. We choose to live (or visit!) here for many reasons, among them the abundance of cultural resources in the arts.
When I was in the process of looking for a spot to settle down and start my medical practice during my last year of residency training, my search ended abruptly in the Monadnock area. This region has preserved its historical charm and embraced progress at the same time. One particularly valuable resource that appealed to me was the professional theatre in the quaint old barn at the end of Hadley Road.
I have loved live theatre since my early years when my parents took me to see performances of big stage musicals in Los Angeles, near my hometown. It was common for me to hear the songs of Rogers and Hammerstein playing on the stereo in our living room.
There is a kind of magic that occurs in live theatre as the actors and audience play off each other. This is not something that can be duplicated on a screen, large or small. The participation of the audience is critical to the success of a performance, just as is the work of the actors, playwright, director, designers, and technicians. As audience members, we are recipients of an amazing gift which moves us emotionally, causes us to think critically about important ideas, and provides us with a temporary escape from some of the challenges we face in our lives.
Peterborough Players is a truly professional theatre which is well known and held in high regard around the country. And the Players provides a highly sought- after internship program for young artists in training. We’re fortunate to have this right here in the Monadnock Region!
With the “Grand Restart” last summer, Tom Frey showed us his creative genius as
all three shows were staged outdoors to rave reviews. As we prepare to launch our 2022 summer season, it is time to reflect on the need for community support. Many of the costs associated with stage productions occur even before the first tickets are sold. These are related to royalties, contracts, salaries, etc. And this summer, ticket sales will only account for about 40% of overall expenses. The difference needs to be made up by those
of us in the community.
I urge you to join me in supporting the Peterborough Players with a donation today.
Your tax-deductible contribution is needed more than ever right now due to the impact that the pandemic has had on live indoor events. Together we can help to ensure that the Players will continue to thrill audiences for many years to come and participate in the professional development of the next generation of theatre artists.
Please use the enclosed envelope, go to the Players website, or call (603) 924-9344 to make your generous donation today. Thank you.
With sincere gratitude for helping to make our Peterborough Players possible,
President, Board of Trustees
Dear Peterborough Players,
In a moment of appreciation, a good friend once said to me, “Everything you went through in your life brought you to where you are now.” I find myself thinking of that so often, especially of late. In a way it is luck, or a simple twist of fate (as Mr. Dylan would put it), that takes us to every new breath, daily.
Life, overall, can be a bit ludicrous. I have great appreciation for happy accidents.
Over 12 years ago now, (which I find hard to believe, as I’m sure I’m only 17…) I was in midtown Manhattan, temping at the offices of the NFL (yes, that NFL), praying my agent would call. My phone did ring, but instead of my agent, it was my wonderful friend Pamela Bob (a longtime Peterborough Player) asking if I was booked for the summer. A production she was involved in here had lost some actors, and she wanted to know if she might pass my name along as a potential replacement.
Of course, I’d heard of the Players - who in the business hadn’t? Beyond its theatrical reputation, more than a few friends got positively awestricken any time they recounted their experiences: the amazing productions they’d been involved with, the unbelievable group of humans they got to work alongside, the inevitable crack-up story about a line missed or costume change altered. (Get “show folk” together long enough, those inevitably come up.)
Long story short, thanks to whatever happy accidents lead one actor to step out of a job and another to have a window to take one, a few months later I showed up at the Players to start rehearsals for I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. And the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been a member of the professional Acting Company ever since.
When I look back at how much my life has changed since then, and the series of happy accidents that brought me to the Players, I’m humbled and grateful for the twist of fate that found me here. An opportunity that could have easily been missed, for so many reasons, took me to this astounding place - where truly exceptional theatre has been created by incredibly gifted people for the most supportive of audiences since 1933.
As an actor, you can kind of be blown hither and yon. I’ve worked in New York and across the country, at big city theatres and small suburban stages. I’ve seen a lot (a LOT), and I’ve learned even more. All of that has made it easy for me to recognize the singular wonder of the work at the Players, the high quality of the productions, the caliber of the people involved, the impressive and unique history. I can also see how easily one could take for granted that theatre so extraordinary was happening in one’s own backyard. And make no mistake, it is extraordinary professional theatre.
There’s a new guy at the helm of the Players – what’s his name, Tim? Tom?
All joking aside, I’m thrilled to share my partner, Tom Frey, with the Players. I may
be biased, but I think that like the Players, he’s one of a kind. I’ve been lucky enough to see his brilliance as a multi-talented, nuanced, creative, surprising, patient, and unique artist from the moment we met. I have the greatest respect for him as a theatrician. But more than that, in a time when the world can be a rough place, he’s a deeply good person, ready to make change for the better. I know he’s got some wonderful surprises in store for all of us.
We almost got through a letter without mentioning the pandemic, didn’t we? I bring it up now to say that all our theatre has been through for past year and a half (not to mention the 88 before that) has brought us to this place. The Players is poised for change, turning wheels of good work, ready to meet the moments that we need to, all with a bit of the magic that has always existed at the end of Hadley Road.
We’ve made it to this moment, but we need more than just magic to make it to the next. The Players Family is an incredibly generous one. So, it is with great humility that I write this today because Peterborough Players still needs your help.
We are a nonprofit professional theatre. The money you give will create more art, develop the next generation of theatre artists, and ensure the Players is here for years to come. Won’t you consider making a year-end gift to the Players now?
May 2022 be filled with wonderful surprises that bring you to exactly where you need to be! I wish the same for our Peterborough Players.
With great affection,
Member of the Acting Company
My Pop received a diagnosis of cancer in November 2008. He listened and blinked and said to his doctor, “Well let’s get it taken care of quick ‘cause I have a play to do in Peterborough this summer!” A play to do in Peterborough this summer. Words that had great meaning for my father throughout his wonderful life.
James Whitmore was an actor, but the story of how his career began is not universally known. Mustered out of the Marine Corps at the end of the Second World War, he hit the streets of New York City with a dream that he had nurtured in the chaos and terror of the Pacific: To become an ACTOR!
He was a farm boy from Buffalo who had thought about becoming a Presbyterian minister, like his father before him, but had fallen in love with Gilbert and Sullivan. The war experience had made it clear that he better go after what he wanted in life! No matter how farfetched.
So, he hit the bricks in New York and started learning his craft and auditioning for jobs. He got a job in early 1947. He was hired to work at a summer stock theatre way up in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
Before he left New York he was in a scene class at the American Theatre Wing. A casting lady came in from the rain and sat in the back of the theatre. She was waiting for a cab. While she waited, she watched. She noticed the stocky kid on stage, he was a good actor and seemed like the Marine that he was. A few days later she was having a meeting with Kermit Bloomgarten – a big Broadway producer. He was producing a new show about the war Command Decision starring Paul Kelly, and he was looking for a new guy to play Kelly’s adjutant. An important part. But he needed a kid who he could believe was military. The casting agent thought of the tough kid she had seen doing the scene on that rainy afternoon. He was perfect! But who was he??? She tracked him down and found out his name. The problem was he had left town a few days ago and was starting that summer stock job.
So, she called up to Peterborough Players and told the kid to get back to New York! He said “No I can’t risk this job! It’s the first paying job I’ve gotten as an actor and I’m not blowing it!” As luck and fate would have it, the woman who founded the Players, Edith Bond Stearns overheard the conversation and told my Dad, “You must go to the city and audition for this role, and I will pay your way. You cannot pass up chances like this.”
My old man did what she said and after several auditions which took him back and forth to NY a few times, he got the job!! Mrs. Stearns footed the entire bill for all the train rides, and she kept a place for him in the Players company that entire season.
My Dad met my Mom at the Players that summer and they got married at the church in Dublin. I showed up the next year. Command Decision got 21 curtain calls opening night! Pops was on his way to a career as an actor that few have matched for integrity and commitment to craft.
James Whitmore made his bones in Hollywood but never stopped going back to the theatre. It was the source of it all. It all began with Edith Bond Stearns and Peterborough Players.
In 1998 Pops was in Peterborough doing his renowned one man show, ”Will Rogers USA.” He was once again feeling the excitement of the place, the dedication to doing great work, and the young people working hard. He remembered his beginnings.
Gus Kaikkonen asked if Dad would be interested in coming back in 2000 and doing “The Stage Manager” in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, for the millennial. “If I’m alive, I’ll be here” Dad said. He was and he was!! And so, James Whitmore started another run at the Players, one which lasted to the end of his life.
In 2004 he invited me to leave my TV and film work to come to the source. We did Inherit the Wind together and Tuesday’s with Morrie here at the Players. I got to finally give my Dad something back after all he’d given me.
My Dad had found his Oasis at the end of his life! A place to explore great plays with wonderfully gifted collaborators. The seasons were rich in tradition and classism. Gus pushed the envelope into groundbreaking and edginess.
The Players is a cultural treasure which continues today. With Tom Frey ascending to the role of Artistic Director, this place is more alive than ever.
Mr. Frey’s vision for coming out of the pandemic was with a dynamite Grand Restart lineup, -- Our Town, downtown in the town, BEEHIVE: the 60s Musical, and the US premiere of Where You Are -- all staged in beautiful outdoor environments for the times we’re living thru. And, this spring my daughter called me very excited and said, “Dad I can’t believe it, I have a play to do in Peterborough this summer!” There she was Mrs. Gibbs, Peterborough Players 2021. She was wonderful!
It is an exciting time for the theatre. It’s also a life and death time for the theatre.
The Peterborough Players is a bastion of excellence and commitment to all that makes us great as a country and a species. The human heart does not keep beating in a vacuum. It takes support.
Help us please! Will you join me now in making a generous gift to the Players Annual Fund at this important time? Let’s keep this national treasure alive and thriving.
James Whitmore, Jr.
Spring is here! I’m sitting on the porch as I write to you, windows finally open. After the challenges and heartbreak that have marked the past year, I am beginning to feel a great deal of renewed hope and excitement about the future, bit by vaccinated bit. I hope you share this feeling.
Your support and encouragement have made the current “forced intermission” at the Players much more bearable and have allowed us to think creatively about our future. Thank you.
The past year has given us an opportunity to imagine how we will be an even better Peterborough Players. In addition to the public health concerns brought about by the pandemic and the need to put audience, performer, and staff safety first, there is a renewed call for equity, diversity, and inclusion in the theatre and the world right now.
We want to answer this call. As a result, we have spent our intermission not only planning for when we can produce live theatre again, but also asking bigger questions: Who do we want to be? What can we do now to help ensure the future of the Players? What is the theatre’s responsibility to this town, this region, and beyond?
We envision a chance to create art with gratitude for all the support you have shown us and with a sense of renewed energy in knowing we have an opportunity to be part of the healing.
I am thrilled to tell you now that the Players plans to restart with three plays this summer, beginning in early August. All will be produced in a way that is safe and comfortable for our audiences, as well as inclusive and equitable for our artists.
As far back as last summer, we knew that the play we would return with would need to be one of historic significance, a play that we had a deep relationship to, one that would speak of where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we’re going. We had to reach deep into the DNA of the Players and hear what it had to tell us. Any guesses? You got it: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town!
This summer we will produce the familiar in a bold new way. We are proposing a two-week run of Our Town to be performed outdoors, in downtown Peterborough, on the Green between the Guernsey Building and the Town House. In this way the town of Peterborough itself becomes a backdrop to the performance.
Our Town will be followed by two additional shows, outdoors on the Players grounds, that also speak to this moment in time, and provide some much-needed celebration.
As we all begin to emerge from the pandemic, the Peterborough Players intends to be part
of the harmonizing force represented in Our Town, a force that, to paraphrase Wilder, helps us all “to realize life while we live it—every, every minute”.
Restarting the Players requires a significant investment. Your support of this is vital in our achieving this unprecedented event, vital in helping us express that the Players has been listening and is responding to the changes in the world around us, vital to continuing to build the future of
As we realize life, and the joy that the Players brings to our lives and the Monadnock Region, I ask you to consider making a generous donation today. Your support now is vital towards the Grand Restart.
As I put away my winter boots and look forward to lacing up my sneakers, the anticipation
of returning to the stage with my family of artists, surrounded by you my Players family in the audience, makes me feel buoyant. There’s hope in the air.
Associate Artistic Director
Dear Peterborough Players,
Here we are nearing the end of the uniquely challenging 2020. How are you?
I am by nature an optimist and a problem solver; this year, however, has gotten to me.
I have felt deep sadness and a sense of loss. I have missed all of you. I miss welcoming you as you arrive for a show. I miss hearing your voices between acts. I miss the joyful energy I feel every time I am in the audience with you.
Thankfully, Peterborough Players' family has held strongly together. Your outpouring of encouragement, kind words, support, and enthusiastic engagement in the many events we have hosted, by necessity online, have been uplifting.
Live theatre is a dialogue between artists and audience. Without both of these essential and very human elements, it cannot work. Your faithful continuation of this dialogue, despite the difficulties of this year in which we have had to be apart, has been a boost to our spirits and a lifeline to the continuing mission of the Peterborough Players. Thank you!
My grandmother, Edith Bond Stearns, a single mother of three, founded the theatre in the depths of the Great Depression. While the Players grew during that harrowing time, it went on hiatus from 1943 to 1945 while the United States was at war and closed twice in the 1970s due to my mother’s health. In our 87-year history, the Peterborough Players has been no stranger to difficult times. Each time with love and support, and so, so many people deeply wanting this theatre, in this community, the Players came back.
Today we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic in a year that has seen economic uncertainty and social upheaval. A return to live theatre, with its power to feed souls and encourage healing, feels urgent.
There is lots of hard work to do for the future of your Players, and we are gratefully absorbed in that work now. We are planning theatre that is innovative, inclusive, welcoming, and expresses our gratitude. And, of course, we will produce it in a way that is safe for all involved. We are eager to see you in person again. To have that dialogue between artists and audience. My optimistic nature is greatly anticipating that moment.
Please help us re-start your playhouse by making a year-end donation at this critical moment. Doing so will allow us to share the gift of exceptional, live, professional theatre with you again in 2021.
In the meantime, know you are missed. Be well. I look forward to welcoming you back to your Peterborough Players next summer.
With great gratitude,
PS – Have you seen the plaques listing all the seasons for the first 66 years, hanging under the shed roof outside the old entrance to the theatre? I was a teenager before I realized 1943 1944 1945 GONE TO WAR, was not a ‘hit show’ we did for three years!
Thank you for your support of the Players over the years. You make the Players possible. In these challenging times, we recognize that things other than theatre may be at the front of your mind.
I’m sitting safely alone in the empty house of the Players looking at the dark stage as I begin to write this, and I am struck by the fact that I’m not thinking about the productions we aren’t able to do this year (as painful as that is). I am thinking about dinner tables.
I’m thinking that this summer, when you would have been clearing up dinner to come to the Players, you may linger a little longer at your table instead. And perhaps, there will only be those sheltering with you at that table. What stories will you tell together then?
There is a table in Beth Brown’s dining room that was her mother’s, and her grandmother’s before that. When Sally Brown ran the theatre, it was where people would gather after performances to let off steam, tell stories, and “pour Scotch over wounded egos”. Often after everyone else left, former Artistic Director Charles Morey and Sally would sit and plot the future of the Players until late into the night. I have had the privilege to sit at that table, have dinner with fellow Peterborough Players, trade stories, and do a little good plotting ourselves.
That table hums with the energy of all the artists who ever gathered around it.
There is another dinner table at the Morison House, where Gus and Kraig have lived every summer for 24 years. Around it on opening nights we stand, eating and drinking and laughing, relieved that the barn has afforded us yet another Peterborough miracle. The play opened. We said most of the words. People applauded. No one got hurt.
That table will be silent this summer.
When I was a boy, it was my (loathsome) job to set the table. I come from a family of 7 children, so it took forever, it seemed, to my little brain. I would put it off in every way possible until my father would find me wherever I was in the house, come up behind me, and startle me with, “That table won’t set itself, chum”. (I could have sworn he was out mowing the lawn. I could have sworn I still heard the mower running. But that’s a different story.)
Our playhouse will come back, and we with it. The theatre will be a welcome escape, a destination for healing, and a place of inclusion. Historically, theatres that are able to survive difficult times often come back stronger.
But only if we can keep the table set, and that table will not set itself.
Your donation to the Annual Fund at this critical time when we have no revenue will make that possible. It will help us keep the lights on and allow us to use this forced intermission to re-examine and reimagine what your Peterborough Players will be for the next generation. If we can do this together, the season Gus and Keith put together for us next will be a feast we will never forget.
In the meantime, we miss you. Perhaps some evening this summer around 7:30pm, if you’re still at the table, you could share a good Peterborough Players story.
With deep gratitude,
Associate Artistic Director
PS -- Stay safe and healthy. We’ll get through this together, apart. We are strong people. We are Peterborough Players. All of us. Peace to you.