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Thomsen Talk: August 2020

Board meetings are super confidential, right? Everyone knows that what’s discussed by a board of directors is to not to be divulged. So….. I’m going to break a rule right now and share a piece of info! (Don’t tell anyone you heard this from me)

During the first board meeting into the stay-at-home order, we were discussing the immediate future of QCT programming. Our line-up for 2020 was being delayed, and the question was asked if we were still going to offer anything for our volunteers and our audiences. I brought up the notion of what I call “why bother theatre.” I was feeling lost, and I wasn’t interested in QCT pumping out programming “just because.” It was our very wise board president, Nora Baldner, who said, “I think whatever it is we do, no matter the circumstances, it should go back to our mission statement.” Suddenly, the clouds parted, a radiant beam pierced through the sky, and I had a new hitch in my step. That was just what I needed to hear in order to find my way again. Even though the way in which we produce theatre would look different, it could still be something that was full of the highest artistic integrity, was well-written, and was produced to the strongest level our resources would allow. We would still offer and perpetuate quality theatre entertainment and education by and for the community! We are still Quincy Community Theatre!

Now, what could that quality programming be? Over the weeks that followed, I sat in many a webinar, many about technology and many about diversity and inclusion. Here are some takeaways:

  • Be okay with smaller audiences so the art can be relevant and inclusive
  • Audiences have to see themselves in the work
  • We need new songs and new stories that remind us of what we have overcome together
  • Technology can allow you to reach new audiences.

With those thoughts whirling inside my head and my heart, I selected for our virtual productions two plays: The Mountaintop by Katori Hall and She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen (pronounced KWEE GWEN). The Mountaintop, set in the 1960s, explores the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and reminds its audience that we are all part of a relay race, and anyone of us can pick up the baton and pass it along. We are each capable in our own unique way of making positive change. The play provides a gripping story and, with the resurgence of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, a timely impetus for community conversation. She Kills Monsters, set in the present day, explores the world of Dungeons and Dragons, a world, I admit, I know nothing about. While set in a fantasy world, what becomes powerful about this play is that, just like its protagonist, we come face to face with a very real world of bullying, social pressure, identity, and dealing with grief.

Both of these plays remind us to ask questions and to seek deeper connections with those we may not initially understand. We hope that these works, being presented in a virtual format, will reach first time QCT viewers and that those viewers will know that we see them and that they are wanted and welcomed!

While many may groan over having to attend a board meeting, I am so grateful for that board meeting back in March that helped get me back on track by reconnecting with the mission of Quincy Community Theatre. Whether we are on a stage or right there on your computer screen, we are committed to providing you with relevant stories told by varied voices, all done with the highest of integrity.

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