(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., April 7, 2020) – Williamstown Theatre Festival has cancelled its 2020 summer season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No plays will be mounted at its home in the ’62 Center for the Arts on the Williams College campus.
The festival will, however, record the plays that were to be staged for the digital audio platform called Audible. Some of those originally hired to perform onstage will take part in the digital recordings.
WTF artistic director Mandy Greenfield issued the following statement:
Anyone who makes theatre and everyone who makes going to the theatre a central endeavor to their lives shares one unspoken truth: we believe in humanity. We believe that in the dark, among a large group of people breathing the same air, a theatrical experience can elevate, entertain, transport, reveal, unmask, even transform us. This shared truth has been cherished and practiced for all of human history: we share roots with our theatrical ancestors and branches with generations of theatrical storytellers to come.
We are all guessing about the immediate future right now—will it be safe to commune in large groups this summer, to share the same air in the theatre on Main Street, on Main Streets everywhere, all over the planet?
We don’t know.
But, as we are all still theatre makers and theatre lovers, we must hold onto our shared belief in humanity. Today, we are all working to flatten the curve, to slow the spread of a virus in order to save lives and buy time for the development and dissemination of a vaccine or cure or both. I, alongside almost everyone I talk or email or zoom with daily, believe we will succeed. We believe in humanity.
We will make the season of new work we planned to make. We will create seven new productions with Audible, the world’s largest producer and provider of original spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks, in a format safe to elevate, entertain, transport, reveal, unmask and transform audiences from the comfort of their homes.* The stellar group of artists who planned to spend the summer in Williamstown, will deliver—with fearlessness and redoubled passion—on the promise they made to create this work for you. This virus might get to tell us what we cannot do but it does not get to dictate what we can do. The voices of these artists will be heard.
When we can, once again, come together in large groups, breathe the same air, and raise a majestic curtain on the ancient art we cherish, we will see you at the theatre. I am betting on humanity and I am certain we will arrive there together, ahead.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Williamstown Theatre Festival and the nearly seven generations of artists, artisans, apprentices, interns, managers, technicians, Guild members, Williams College and Williamstown community members, administrators and artistic leaders who are this Festival, thank you for standing with us.