Back in April, we spoke to Kim Bent, Founding Artistic Director, and Kathleen Keenan, Producing Artistic Director, of Lost Nation Theater, about how the COVID-19 crisis has affected this Montpelier, Vermont arts hub. We caught up with Kim & Kathleen to get an update on how Lost Nation Theater has been doing during the pandemic.
Kim Bent & Kathleen Keenan:
When we last spoke in April about how LNT was dealing with the pandemic, I believe we were hoping to be able to salvage the last show of what was to be our 32nd season, “Ragtime,” in October, and follow that up with other programming at the end of the year; then continue with some kind of winter season to help make up for the four shows (and the education programs) that we had to cancel.
When it became clear in late summer that it would be impossible to follow through with that plan, we started thinking in terms of staging outdoor events and then, when the weather got colder, doing some occasional, one-time-only special events in our chamber theater for masked, socially-distanced audiences. That plan, too, had to be modified when Covid numbers started to spike, so we took those planned in-door events on-line.
Here’s what we’ve done:
1) “Shakespeare on the State House Steps”: a fully staged, cue-script reading of “Midsummer Nights Dream” which featured 17 actors, two musicians, 2 sound engineers, and of course our director Ann Harvey (who doubled as our props designer). It was recorded by ORCA so we hope to be able to share that event online soon!
2) Multiple Readings of E. A. Poe’s “The Raven” from atop the City Hall portico – a Montpelier Madness pop-up event.
3) Songs from the City Hall Steps: Four singer-song writers performing tunes from past LNT shows and from shows yet to be staged – a Montpelier Madness wrap celebration.
4) A new play reading of Eric Perterson’s adaptation of Yvonne Daley’s book “Going Up the Country,” via Zoom.
5) Story Telling Mentorships for Young People: Private on-line coaching sessions – The private coaching workshops were for ages 8-adult, and were made available pro-bono for students from Montpelier thanks to a grant from the Montpelier Community Fund.
6) Stage Management Masterclass Series: Four, one and a half hour on-line sessions with a professional stage manager.
7) On December 18, Willem Lange performed his 46th annual reading of Charles Dickens “Christmas Carol,” which live-streamed via YouTube, followed by a post-show party via Zoom. We were really in the theater!! No audience. And strict protocols in place. But we were there – showing off the lighting improvements and rep plot that were put into place just before (literally minutes) the lockdown; and thanks to our partnership with Theatre Engine and Matthew Bingenot Creations – you saw it all from multiple camera angles. It was free, though donations were gratefully appreciated for LNT and for The Haven in the Upper Valley – a cause close to Willem’s heart.)
How can people support Lost Nation Theater:
LNT may not be selling season tickets for 2021 – at least not right now – but we will be creating theater events and education programs in 2021, so purchasing gift certificates, or if you are in the position to make a donation (so that LNT can be positioned and resourced as best as we possibly can when we do get back to production) would be a great help. (www.lostnationtheater.org or http://sforce.co/3oPk9si)
Another purchase option is to join our Patreon page. Special content including interviews, concerts, and readings compliment releases of archive productions. Shows coming up include 2010’s world premiere of David Budbill’s “I Never Sang for My Father,” 2012 Katherine Paterson’s “Lyddie,” and we just posted our community favorite “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
LNT could use your vote! Broadway World (on online industry magazine & service org) is once again awarding “Best of” Regional Theatre Awards – and Lost Nation Theater is nominated! Folks can vote for us (or their other Vermont theater favorites, here.
Please stay in touch! Open our emails and spread LNT news, opportunities and needs with family and friends!
Be patient with us! While LNT is temporarily closed, the artistic directors and many others are volunteering for the theater to keep you entertained, and your spirits lifted. The best way to reach us is via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What exciting things are coming up?
Our artists friends – and lighting designer Sam Biondolillo – are making it possible for Lost Nation Theater to keep up its annual event “Stories for the Season.” But in 2020 it was “Stories For The Season Goes Virtual!“ Each week, now thru mid-January, LNT will post at least one story celebrating winter holidays (curated from traditions around the world), that are recorded on the LNT Stage. This is our gift to the community. Stories are right on our website.
As a final kind of celebration of, or nod to our 2020 Season that wasn’t – a season that was to celebrate the accomplishments of women (or women playwrights) in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment – LNT split its donations received on Giving Tuesday with Circle – our local organization that advocates for and serves victims & survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. LNT will be sending a check of $500 to Circle. It is the season of giving, after all!
And before we announce what will be live-in-person in 2021, LNT is really excited by the possibilities we’ve discovered partnering with Theatre Engine and Matthew Bingenot Creations while working on “A Christmas Carol.” So, look for two more live- stream events, fully-staged, around Valentine’s Day and April Fools holidays! We are working on more online education programs with our colleagues across the country and Vermont as well – more craft/tech skills in addition to performance masterclasses.
And as we look to 2021, there’s still a lot of uncertainty, and we’ll be continuing to stay fluid about possibilities, scheduling and where/how we share our work with folks. But we wouldn’t have made it here without our community, our season ticket holders, donors, sponsors and friends sticking with us. We know how incredibly lucky we are, and are doing our very best to keep uplifting, meaningful and resonant events and content flowing!