Challenge

A THEATRE RESCUE FUND

responses

in all cases anonymity will be preserved

The very First response was this:

Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 10:55:09 -0500 Larry,
We will pledge $300.00 from ______. That's not the smallest box office take (sadly that total was $28.00 one night ...). But it is what we can afford because ________ left us with a tiny nest egg against the philistines (read republicans).
Where and how do i send it?
. Folks have been good to us and we want to thank them....

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 07:30:15 -0800 (PST)
Hi Larry,
This is great for you to do this!!! We will gladly help in some way. Given that we lost on our last show, I'm not sure how much we'll be able to help (our ability to put on future shows is in question...though we ARE plowing forward ). But we'll come up with something to help. Is there a deadline? If I can wait a couple of weeks, I should have more money and may be able to make a bigger donation.

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 12:14:55 -0500
Hi Larry.
_____ passed along your letter soliciting money for a dying theatre company. He asked me why when you started raising money for us. I told him you weren't.
That said, we would love to help, but we are in the same situation (if not worse) as the theatre you are raising money for.
Unfortunatly all I can offer at this time is my well wishes for good luck - to you, to them and all people fighting the good fight.

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 11:22:00 -0500
Hi!
Yes, I believe we do support our own. We donated the proceeds this fall from 4 performances to a theater in New Orleans.
Sorry to say, we are all donated out (and ticket sales are not what they could be ...)
Good luck with the effort,

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 14:36:07 -0500
Hello Larry,
We would truly love to help, but ...
I wish it could be otherwise.
We are hearing from across the country that many theaters are experiencing similar financial circumstances—somehow, we have to work together to find a solution.
Thank you for taking on this project—you are an inspiration to all of us.

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This is the note sent to the theatres reviewed in The Theater Mirror in the past year:

'TIS THE SEASON

Beware. I am going to ask you for money.

As the Solstice approaches and the sun dips daily ever closer to extinction its failing rays stretch, pale and red and feeble, into my home until on that shortest day of the year they reach the entire length of the apartment, from my only window down the hall and, all too brief and pale, onto the inside of my door. It reminds me every year of that wintry dragon our ancestors watched, with its icicle-teeth, nibbling away the light.
I still believe, as an old friend assures me every year, that "The Sun WILL Come Again" but, more and more, I have come to hate Xmas --- not at all because I am a newly confessed anti-Christian atheist, but because for more years than I'd like to count I end every year without enough wherewithal to participate in the festivities.

No, I am not asking for money for me.

Just last week, after an absence of several months, a neighbor --- not quite a friend, but more than an acquaintance --- showed up again with her traditional request: ten dollars for cigarettes and a bottle of beer. She's a recovered crack-addict, a "tough old bird" --- a youngest daughter needing someone to listen to her enumerate her family problems, and so I do. But this time she pushed herself in on a wheelchair and, without meeting my eyes, told me of hospital and re-hab stays, smiled a moment at the antics of her cat, and matter-of-factly said the doctors had told her mother they can do nothing more for her. So Selina is dying --- and all I had in my pocket was six bucks.

No, I don't want money for her.

A couple days ago, I heard that a Theatre is dying.

And, in amongst my gloomy meditations on "The DEAD of Winter" and the difference a few bucks can make, and the life-and-death difference money makes in the happy-ending to our favorite Solstice myth ("It's A Wonderful Life"), I thought I'd make a try at proving theater people care about their own.
This is what I've heard:

The "Nut" is six thousand dollars, or they will be dark come June.

They still pay the actors, but the staff (small as it is) has taken no salaries;
instead they have taken part-time jobs to keep themselves alive.

But the one thing that gave me hope in this gloomy tale is this:
Some years back a sudden short-fall had to be made up, and was; a couple genuine benefactors helped (helped a lot) --- but more than half their short-fall was paid for in ten- and twenty-dollar donations from Other Theater People!

Can you see, now, why invoked the cash-strewn table giving George Bailey's Building & Loan it's needed happy ending?

What I'm going to do is ask every company that has been reviewed in The Mirror this year to make a gift --- Not a Benefit, but a simple Gift --- of an amount equal to the box-office take from One Performance.

And no, I won't tell you what theatre is in trouble.
They have their pride, and they and I still believe in miracles.
Besides, do you know of a theater company, anywhere, that couldn't be in just such straits next year, or even next month? So send not to know for whom this bell tolls. There, but for the grace of Thespis, go we all.
And I have no faith whatever in flinchfisted governments or corporations or grants-men to save a theatre too small for them even to notice.
We who Make theater and who Love theater are the only ones to understand what is at stake, and how close every one of us come to needing just such help.

I will take none of the money you donate.
If we can raise six thousand, one more theatre will stay lit.
If not, well perhaps we ought to make what money we can raise the beginning of A Theatre Rescue Fund that will Be There when next one of us is, suddenly, in real need.
We owe that to one another.

Out in Iowa, my friend holds every year a Solstice Celebration.
As sunset approaches, the youngest person present is sent to a west window to watch, then to run in with the news:

THE SUN IS GONE!
Then all lights are extinguished except for one candle and, each in turn, everyone comes forward to light a taper saying
THE SUN......
and, lighting another of the candles circled on the table
......WILL COME AGAIN
When all have done so the eldest present uses a taper to light the biggest of the candles with the words
MAY THIS LIGHT BURN TILL THE SUN COMES AGAIN
And then light is carried to dozens of other candles throughout the house, and out come the presents and the music and the foods and sweetmeats and jollities until, when the last guests depart, the eldest of the household keeps watch on that biggest candle until sunrise.

I still believe THE SUN WILL COME AGAIN.

A bright and cheerful Solstice Morning to you all.

Love,
===Anon.

larry stark/The Theater Mirror
125 Amory Street #501
Roxbury MA 02119

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide