When TheatreSquared staff greeted a gathering of donors and supporters at an event in May, they started out the evening's proceedings by raising a glass in a toast to the difficult year everyone in attendance had just experienced.
"It's been an unusual year," acknowledged T2 Artistic Director Robert Ford.
"Please raise your glasses to simply being able to gather today, in this space," added Executive Director Martin Miller.
After all, for most of 2020 and some of 2021, T2 was forced by the global pandemic to suspend in-person performances and pivot to streaming online productions. While that new venture was unexpectedly successful for the theater company -- reaching new, cross-country audiences and eliciting rave reviews from both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal -- there's no substitution for the energy of a live audience. "At the Wedding" opened for live performances in May, and, with the announcement of a brand new season, T2 is off and running again.
"Our 15th Anniversary Season is under way in person again," Ford told the crowd. "Our full lineup -- including the shows we had to postpone last spring -- will be staged by the end of this fall, just about five months later than we'd originally anticipated."
T2 also used the occasion to introduce the crowd to the new staff members added to the team in the past year, including Tara Versey, the new director of community experience, who previously held a position with the University of Arkansas Department of Admissions; Andrea Newby, patron loyalty director, who comes to T2 from the North Carolina Symphony; The Commons General Manager Andrew Futch, whose previous experience includes The Pressroom and Holler in Bentonville; The Commons Associate Manager Michael Bennett, previously of Bordinos; Chris Seawood, previously chief operating officer at St. James Baptist Church, now corporate and institutional giving manager at T2; Eron Huenefeld, previously of Theatre Puget Sound, now development coordinator at T2; Jasmine Neal, T2's new audience services manager, whose last position was with Bentonville's Blake Street House; Robin Lynch, who hails from Vermont's Northern Stage and is now serving as T2's associate audience services manager; Camille McCraw, T2's Business and Human Resources Manager, who last worked with the city of Wichita, Kan.; and Monica Thomas, who joined the team as Marketing Associate.
In addition to new staffing, T2 also made another announcement: The Arkansas New Play Festival is going to look significantly different.
"Alongside the 2022 Arkansas New Play Festival -- which has now emerged as a nationally recognized force in new play creation -- we'll be staging a world premiere," said Ford. "But I can't take the wraps off it just yet. We're in final conversations with playwrights and collaborative partners, and just trust me when I say, it's going to be a first staging that you won't want to miss, and you'll be glad to be able to say you were there 'when.'"
As the event reached its conclusion, one thing seemed clear: T2 didn't let a global pandemic slow it down. But, all other progress and achievement aside, celebrating -- in person -- with its theater supporters may just be the best thing that's happened since March 2020.
"To all of you -- and to all of us, together again," said Ford as he closed out the toast at the beginning of the event. "Cheers!"
‘Tiny Beautiful Things’
By Nia Vardalos and Cheryl Strayed
Oct. 20-Dec. 5
When life is bitter, turn to Sugar. A celebration of the simple beauty of being human, this funny and deeply touching exploration of resilience is based on Cheryl Strayed’s journey as the beloved anonymous advice columnist for “Dear Sugar.” Adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos, the Academy Award-nominated writer of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
‘A Christmas Carol’
By Amy Herzberg and Robert Ford
Brimming with stage magic and holiday cheer, TheatreSquared’s adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” brings three spirits to visit the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and take him on a fantastic journey through past, present and future.
By Katori Hall
Jan. 19-Feb. 13, 2022
A gripping reimagination of events the night before the assassination of the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
By Mike Lew
Feb. 23-April 10, 2022
Squabbling siblings Albert and Jennifer Chen reached the pinnacle of academic achievement. But as adults, they’re epic failures: He’s just been passed up for promotion, and she’s been dumped by her loser boyfriend. So they confront their parents and launch an Asian Freedom Tour.
‘The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity’
By Kristoffer Diaz
April 13-May 8, 2022
“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” slams together thrilling spectacle, incredible characters and geopolitical allegory of pro wrestling into an invigorating theatrical experience that tackles racism, drop-kicks globalization and brings a championship tale into the ring.
‘Miss You Like Hell’
Book and Lyrics: Quiara Alegría Hudes
Music and Lyrics: Erin McKeown
June 1-July 17, 2022
The newest musical from the Pulitzer Prize-winning co-creator of “In The Heights” tells the story of a whip-smart, deeply imaginative teenager who agrees to take a road trip with her free-spirited Latina mother.
The Arkansas New Play Festival
June 29-July 24, 2022
TheatreSquared’s critically acclaimed celebration of new works for the American stage raises the stakes with the festival’s first, multi-week, fully produced world premiere. Title to be announced in Fall 2021.