(Malvern, PA) – People’s Light will cancel the remainder of its 2019/2020 Season in response to evolving public health concerns. In addition to the early closure of Shakespeare in Love, cancelled productions include Hold These Truths, a solo play inspired by the true story of Gordon Hirabayashi; Bayard Rustin: Inside Ashland, a world premiere commissioned and developed by People’s Light; Amy Herzog’s critically acclaimed contemporary drama Mary Jane; and Songs for Nobodies, a one-woman musical tour de force. SummerBLAST, the theatre’s annual summer education program, is also cancelled, and the on-site restaurant The Farmhouse Bistro is closed until further notice.
“As the only year-round professional theatre in Chester County, we can’t overstate the emotional and financial impact of losing more than half of our 45th Anniversary Season,” says Executive Artistic Director Abigail Adams. “And yet, we’re confident this is the best course of action for the well-being of our staff, artists, and audiences.”
2019/2020 Season subscribers and ticket holders have a variety of options available to them and should visit peopleslight.org for the theatre’s full cancellation notice. The People’s Light Box Office and administrative offices are closed, though staff will be working remotely Monday through Friday to assist affected patrons.
As Shakespeare in Love was in performance and Hold These Truths in full technical rehearsal at the time of their cancellations, People’s Light honored all contracts in full for both productions and was able to capture final performances on film, which are available through password-protected streaming links. Due to various legal considerations, the recording of Shakespeare in Love cannot be distributed beyond affected ticket holders. But those who did not have tickets to Hold These Truths before its cancellation can still experience this beautiful piece of theatre and support the intrepid artists that brought it to life by purchasing access to the streaming link, available through May 3 at peopleslight.org.
“Looking at what would have been our full 2019/2020 Season, I’m struck by the recurring themes of resilience, perseverance, optimism, and hope,” reflects Producing Director Zak Berkman. “These plays were inspired and informed by our local communities and sought to connect us to each other and our history. Now we must find new ways to gather and share stories about our place and common purpose.” People’s Light plans to stage Bayard Rustin: Inside Ashland as part of its 2021/2022 Season and is considering options to bring back the other cancelled productions in some capacity.
People’s Light will continue to bring theatre, music, and arts education to its online community. Among its first offerings, along with the Hold These Truths film, is digital Spring Theatre School. Saturday theatre classes for ages 5 to 18 will meet virtually April 18 – May 16. Keep an eye on peopleslight.org for more digital content in the months ahead.
People’s Light will reopen this fall with a vibrant and life-affirming 46th Season. “The need for shared stories in shared spaces to lift our spirits, enrich our souls, and make us laugh will only become more necessary after we weather this crisis,” ends Adams. “We can’t wait to return to a bustling campus filled with people from near and far, of widely different backgrounds, coming together to celebrate our complicated, unpredictable, and wonderful lives. We hope you’ll join us.”
Like non-profit theatres around the world, People’s Light keenly feels the financial fallout of this crisis. For those who are able, you can support the theatre through these unprecedented cancellations by donating at peopleslight.org/support/donate.