Nashville Repertory Theatre, one of three resident companies to make Tennessee Performing Arts Center its performance home, has canceled its 2020-21 MainStage season due to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the company will offer digital programs for online streaming while planning to return to TPAC in the fall of 2021.
“The safety of our artists and our audiences is our first priority,” said Nashville Rep’s Executive Director Drew Ogle via press release. “While this decision is heartbreaking for all of us, and we optimistically waited to make it, we know it is the correct one.”
The pandemic forced professional theaters across the country to close earlier this year in March when Nashville Rep was weeks away from the final production of its award-winning 35th anniversary season. However, although live production was suspended, Nashville Rep did not go dark.
In April and May, the company produced Postcards from Quarantine, a series of original monologues commissioned from alumni playwrights of Nashville Rep’s Ingram New Works Project and filmed by Rep actors from the safety of their homes. In August, the company offered its signature annual fundraiser, Broadway Brunch, online. Most recently, the Rep’s design team has been producing a series of videos to support arts teachers in Metro Nashville Public School System.
“Although this is not the traditional way we have presented theatre, streaming does offer many benefits,” said Ogle. “Our online programs so far have reached over 10,000 people, and the format offers us so many new ways to tell stories.”
Nashville Rep will premiere its next online production on November 21. Little Hollow, Tennessee is a hybrid theatre production of interlocking and stylistically diverse videos that tell the story of a disappeared town. After a global pandemic ruins her opening night gala, the owner/operator of a living museum dedicated to the doomed town pivots to an “online experience museum.” Short reenactment videos, historical demonstrations, and her own introductions and commentary tell the story of Little Hollow, its inhabitants, and their intertwined fates across decades. The production is the creation of Nashville Rep’s New Works 615, the local cohort of its Ingram New Works Project.
Following Little Hollow, Tennessee, Nashville Rep will celebrate the holidays in December with Twas the Night Before…, a streaming evening of seasonal songs and stories for the whole family. In January, the Rep will present the Young Writers Festival online in partnership with The Theater Bug, Nashville’s acclaimed youth theatre program. More events will be announced later this winter.
Although live production is not possible for the next several months, Ogle and Nashville Rep’s Board of Directors remain confident that the company will remain vibrant during the pandemic and will return to the stage as soon as possible.
“We are truly grateful for the support of our audiences, patrons, and artists as we pivot to new ways of serving our community,” said Ogle. “Their individual support, as well as that of our major institutional funders the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Metro Arts Commission, the HCA Healthcare Foundation, the Shubert Foundation, and Ingram Charities, will ensure that Nashville Repertory Theatre is ready to welcome returning theatre lovers when the time is right.”