Dear Peterborough Players Family,
Thank you so much for your support of the Players. Your generosity has helped us make award-winning theatre, right here in the Monadnock region in this beautiful setting.
My dad, who was a great, steady, quiet and unassuming dad, only had a 4th grade education. His father took him out of school in Kaleva, Michigan in 1915 so he could help support the family by working in a lumber mill. As an adult he worked 36 years in Chrysler’s Lynch Road plant in Detroit, raised four children and had been married to my mom for 50 years when he passed away in 1980.
I also started working when I was in 4th grade—in the theatre. Nobody forced me to go—in fact, exactly the opposite, and it would be several years before I made my first salary: $10 a week (which I got to keep) at the American Drama Festival, at Dearborn’s Henry Ford Museum.
Was my father supportive? He didn’t say. One time I said to him, “You know you never come to see me in any of my plays,” and he said, “And you don’t come to watch me work.” It hit my ears as more of an embrace than you might think, because he dignified what I was doing with the word “work.” A lot of the actors you see at the Players have been working in the theatre since we were children. Working at making meaningful art.
But the art of theatre requires you. Art happens in the air between the stage and the audience. When the hours of work invested by the playwrights, directors, actors, designers and technicians combine to take the audience on a collective journey.
Last summer one of our volunteers approached me after a talkback. “Gus, I’m so sorry not to have been around as often as usual.” Before I could say it was all right, we all get busy, she continued: “My husband’s been ill and just passed away, so I haven’t been getting out. But I’m so glad I came today because it was the first time I’ve been able to laugh.” We forget the power the theatre can have.
I just counted, and Keith and I have produced 214 plays in the 24 years we have been at the Players. It has been an honor to bring so much work here.
To perform a good play, to bring light and laughter to an intelligent group of people who want to reflect on the world, is absolute heaven to us. Tickets pay for only about 60% of what it costs to operate the Players. We rely on you to help us make up the rest.
And so, this is a love letter. To all of you. I want to tell you how grateful we are that we found you. That we found each other. That five or six—or ten times a year we get to share the experience of making art. Together.
My dad was onstage himself for a short run. Only a couple of years before Mrs. Stearns started producing plays in Peterborough, my dad was in a bar in Detroit, when a fellow “in a suit” turned to him and said, “I need a hick who can sing. You look like a hick, can you sing?”
My dad had just come out of the Army Air Corps, was unemployed and said he thought everyone could sing. He spent the next two weeks doing six shows a day in vaudeville at the Capitol Theater (now the Detroit Opera House). The act was a hit, but after two-weeks the man “in the suit” disappeared, no one got paid, and my dad found a job at the Briggs plant. (Who knows, had my dad run into Mrs. Stearns instead of a fly-by night producer, I might have been born in a theatrical trunk!)
In our 86th summer, we are producing 9 plays by American playwrights, including two deeply connected to the Monadnock region (Russell Davis and Charles Morey.) Off-season we present an array of HD events, bringing the Metropolitan Opera and National Theatre to Peterborough, and now we’re proudly producing a three play Winter Season too.
We hope to provide an escape and provoke many hundreds of discussions. Please help us continue, dear Players, with a donation to the Annual Fund today. Your gift makes a significant difference in our ability to bring you the best plays with the best talent we can find from the Monadnock region and all over the country.
Thank you for your generosity in making this theatre, your theatre, possible.
With deep appreciation,
PS – We look forward to welcoming you here to the Players this summer!