Paul Daigneault on Our Year of Intermission
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– To create smart, fun virtual programming
– To keep the lights on during this time of “intermission”
– To build a stronger SpeakEasy for our second act
What everyone hoped would be just a short intermission has now run a year.
On March 12, 2020, Covid-19 brought down the curtain on SpeakEasy Stage Company and other Boston-area theaters, forcing companies to find new ways to tell their stories and stay connected to their audiences.
It’s been a time for resilience and reinvention, according to SpeakEasy Founder and Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault, who recently shared his thoughts on the challenges of the past twelve months in this exclusive interview.
The Most Difficult Part of the Last Year
“The most difficult part of this past year – and I am speaking specifically about theatre here, as there has been so much loss and hardship – is how much I miss making art. I love being in a rehearsal room, working with actors and designers on a challenging script, putting the play on its feet, and then sharing these amazing stories with our audiences. If nothing else, this pause has reminded me just how vital theatre is as an art form. Nothing compares to the human connections formed when we experience live performers weaving their magic on stage and we breathe together as an audience. Seeing the faces of friends and actors, laughing, gasping, and crying in an intimate space. I miss all of it.”
“One of our goals during this challenging time has been to find and spread joy. And for us, that has meant finding new ways to connect to our audience. Like many of our peer organizations, we moved the party online, and invented new programs like Play Discussion Club and the Boston Project Podcast to continue our mission to both entertain and spark conversation. We also commemorated our 30th Season with a special anniversary concert in November that brought together many friends from around the globe for a jubilant evening of story and song. For me, that was particularly special.
I also personally love teaching, and find great joy in working with my students at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where I teach musical theater performance and producing; and with the folks who joined us for SpeakEasy University, a new online program designed to help train the next generation of Boston theater artists by giving them insights into what it takes to run a successful theater company.”
What’s Happening With the Company Staff
“I am very happy to report that, thanks to the generous support of our donors, as well as some government and institutional relief funding, all eight full-time staff members at SpeakEasy have been, and continue to be, fully employed and safely working from home. We have a truly great team; and although it has been hard being apart, we are learning a lot and accomplishing much more than we imagined we could during this time.”
We Will Be Back for Season 31
“Right now we are planning to welcome you back to the theater in late September 2021. I am working closely with the staff and the board to plan an exciting season, but with a few different options that will depend upon public health and safety guidelines at the time. We will continue working closely with the staff at the Calderwood Pavilion as well as the Actor’s Equity Association to ensure that all safety protocols are in place to ensure a healthy and comfortable experience for artists and audiences alike.
What About The Shows Announced for Season 30
“Currently our plan is to produce several of the shows announced for Season 30 in Season 31. However, a number of factors – such as cast size, cost, capacity restrictions, safety, and story-telling requirements – must be considered before we can finalize our line-up.”
What We’ve Been Up To (Besides Virtual Programming)
“When it became clear we would not be producing live shows this season, we decided to make the most of this “downtime” by focusing on some big projects we’ve needed to tackle: a website redesign and rebranding campaign, research and planning for adding accessibility services (e.g. open captioning and audio description services), and long-term strategic planning. But by far the most important work this season has been to evaluate and update the company’s equity and anti-racism policies, which we compiled into an action plan that we released publicly a few weeks ago.”
Right Now, I’m Excited About
“I am very excited about our Spring Line-Up of three New England premiere productions.
The Pink Unicorn, streaming now through March 18; TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever, streaming April 16-22, and The Boston Project: Project Resilience, available for viewing June 4-10. We also have another very special concert event planned for May, which we will be announcing soon. We are partnering with Boston Conservatory at Berklee for some of this work, and it has been very energizing working with the students.I hope you are able to join us for this exciting Spring Season, and I thank you for sustaining SpeakEasy through this time of Intermission!”
Please email your additional questions to email@example.com, and we will keep adding to this interview. We’d love to hear from you!