HARTFORD, CONN.: Hartford Stage has announced the cancellation of all onstage performances scheduled through June 2021 as a response to the ongoing public safety concerns and the economic impact of the current pandemic. This move also includes reducing Hartford Stage’s pre-pandemic staffing of 200 employees and guest artists to 21, with both managing director Cynthia Rider and artistic director Melia Bensussen taking salary reductions. Hartford Stage’s release also stated that the ability to reopen in the fall of 2021 as planned “is highly dependent on the success of the new Raise the Curtain fundraising campaign.”
“Having to cancel our final weekend of Jane Eyre this past March, the entire run of The King’s Speech, and the productions of Ah, Wilderness! and The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged) has created a serious financial hardship for the theatre,” said Rider in a statement. “Canceling our 2020-21 season as well is such a painful but necessary decision to ensure the safety of our audiences and staff and the long-term survival of Hartford Stage.”
Included in this decision is also the annual production of A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas and an entire six-play season that had been scheduled to begin January 2021. In the meantime, the theatre will focus on its online artistic and education programming, including its virtual conversation series Scene and Heard: LIVE!, hosted by Bensussen.
This fall, the theatre will also feature four events, two of which will be exclusive to patrons who donate already purchased tickets back to the theatre.
First will be the exclusive presentation from the Reduced Shakespeare Company (or the “Remote” Shakespeare Company), who will present an evening of stories and material from the canceled production of A Complete History of Comedy (Abridged). The Not-So-Complete History of Comedy (Online) will take place on Sept. 17.
On Oct. 9, Hartford Stage will present A Broadway Evening with Hartford Stage in another exclusive to ticket donors. The evening will be co-hosted by Adam Heller and Tony winner Beth Leavel alongside Bensussen.
This November (dates to be announced), the theatre will present a new-works festival featuring three plays over three weeks, to be workshopped virtually with a public reading at the end of each week.
Finally, the theatre will present A Community Carol this December (dates to be announced). This virtual collaboration in the spirit of A Christmas Carol is created by Hartford Stage, artists, and local community partners.
“Although I will deeply miss the joy of collaborating in our theatre with our artistic guests and staff,” said Benussen in a statement. “I am excited by the new ways we are finding to connect with our audiences, and making entertaining and meaningful work. Our virtual season this fall gives us an opportunity to further build our community partnerships, highlight our education work, and contribute to a meaningful dialogue with our city and region. We need theatre and our artists more than ever to help us make sense of this challenging time, and to help us envision the future.”