Thursday, April 23, 2020
With theatres closing throughout the country, this is probably a notice you’ve been expecting.
Nevertheless, I regret to inform you that the Michigan Shakespeare Festival is going dark this year. We will not produce our 2020 Mainstage Season.
A wide variety of factors went into this decision. For one, our artist housing at Jackson College is, rightly, currently occupied by the medical staff and first responders for the hospital. We have never been more proud of our partnership with the college than we are now.
But the main factor is the health and safety of our artists and our audiences. Part of the joy of theatre is that it is a community experience, a shared breath, four hundred hearts thrilling, four hundred voices laughing. But this moment, as happened during Shakespeare’s day, that very community experience is an invitation to this virus. To offer shows now would be irresponsible, and we would never put you at risk.
Many of you have already purchased tickets for the upcoming season. We want to be as respectful of that investment in us as possible. Many theatre patrons across the country are turning advance ticket purchases into donations. If you are able to do that, we thank you. That donation will go towards payroll for our staff, rent for our office and off-season storage, office expenses, insurance costs – the things that don’t go away when we’re not able to produce.
However, with so many people suddenly not working, we understand that a donation might not be possible. If you like, we can roll your ticket over to the 2021 Season, where we know we will be producing Henry V, directed by Janice L Blixt, and The Merry Wives of Windsor directed by Robert Kauzlaric, along with a third classical show (it may or may not be Charlie’s Aunt. For 2020, we wanted some lighthearted fare during what we expected to be deep political drama. While we very well may need laughs next year, we’ll see what 2021 looks like. Mystery Show!)
If neither a donation nor a roll-over reservation is possible for you, we completely understand. In the next weeks we’ll have the process set up for refunds. We ask you to be patient—this is not something we’ve dealt with before.
In the interim, we will keep posting content to our Facebook page and Twitter account - we’re enjoying our “MSF Unplugg’d: Artists in their own Residences” series. We have some projects in mind to offer as entertainment this summer and into the fall. We have noted, as we’re sure you have, that during this time of trouble, people are turning to art to feed their souls and hearts. As Claudio notes in Measure For Measure, “The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope.”
When we come back—and we will come back—the world may well be different. We’d be lying if we said losing this season was not a blow, that we didn’t need your support moving forward. But that’s for the future.
At the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, we care deeply about the work we do, the experiences we create, the joys of classical theatre. We care about you more. After all, without an audience, theatre is just people being silly in cool clothes in a well-designed room.
Without you, there is no us.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. We want to see you all on the other side of this.
We’ll see you soon.
Janice L Blixt
Producing Artistic Director
On behalf of the Board and Associates of
The Michigan Shakespeare Festival