After three years, six productions, eight locations, many nights of improv, summer play readings, and a virtual improv festival, we have chosen to step away from Hearth and Mantel Theatre for the time being. We are so grateful for all of your support and constant encouragement as we started this company from the ground up. Through your patronage, we sold over 500 tickets as a brand new company, which allowed for five full length plays to have their world premieres right here in Jackson, Mississippi. So, THANK YOU! Thank you for coming to all of our quirky venues, sharing countless cups of coffee with us, and being a part of this process. Your belief in us and our vision has meant more to us than you can imagine.
It is 2020. Yet, we are still in a nation where black Americans live under the shadow of fear, where their lives are marginalized, dehumanized, and destroyed. This harsh reality is not new. We acknowledge that we have no sufficient language to rectify the wrongs committed against black people in our nation. However, as a company, we want to publicly acknowledge our role in this reality.
It’s been a few months, yet each of us at Hearth & Mantel Theatre are still trying to figure out how to navigate the Covid-19 crisis. We’re not somewhere out ahead of you, with any special knowledge of what the other end of this looks like. We wish we knew. But, we all agree that the things we stand for as a company still matter. We still believe in the power and grace of theatre. We still believe the education of children is not only improved by full integration of theatre and the arts, but that it is vital. We believe theatre cultivates empathy, logic, and community. We believe in local artists.
I like to think this play is for you, for any human wrestling to make sense of all the love and loss and suffering we go through, for the collective “us” as we try and claw past one another’s walls of insecurity and anxieties and, somehow, miraculously, connect with each other. This story is for that friend we lost we never expected to lose and that glowing light in their eyes we haven’t seen in so long.
I am so excited about this week’s Pizza and Play reading! Breaking from the weighty tone of last month’s selection – Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes – The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson is a clever juxtaposition of desperate historical characters and events with contemporary tones, hysterical one-liners, and casual frivolities.
“The Dying of Ida Greene” began two years ago with image and word, neither of which exist in the current drafts of the play. In fact, the only things that remain of the early drafts are the names of the characters. It wasn’t until Pavel turned his face to the sky and began talking about the stars that the play truly began to take shape. Even then, I wasn’t quite sure what the point of it all was. It wasn’t until I heard my wife describe the play to a friend of ours that I came to realize: more than anything, “The Dying of Ida Greene” has become an exploration of the ways in which people change.
I’m a firm believer in gut instinct. When my gut tells me something is “right”, I know I can trust it because it’s the product of my brain doing all sorts of work that I wasn’t even telling it to do!
A little over a week ago Hearth & Mantel Theatre Company celebrated our first year of existence!
For the final Pizza & Plays event of the Summer, we’re shaking things up a little. We will be doing a reading of “After We Become Rain” written by Mac Mitchell, yours truly. This play is a new play — it’s so new it hasn’t even been rehearsed or performed by anyone ever.
It’s an old story, the new neighbors move in and turn out to be a lot more friendly than we expected, or maybe they share a lot more with us than we wanted them to share.