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Regional Spotlight: How Paper Mill Playhouse is Working Through the Global Health Crisis

Regional Spotlight: How Paper Mill Playhouse is Working Through the Global Health Crisis

Now more than ever it is important to support theater and do our part to keep the art form that we love so much alive and as thriving as it can be during these unprecedented times. While the global health crisis has temporarily put the theater world on hold, pausing all live performances and large gatherings to help stop the spread of COVID-19, theaters around the country have taken a hit. During this time of adjusting to our temporary new normal, theaters are figuring out how to take care of their team, and discovering the best ways to virtually bring theater to audiences.

Through our regional theater interview series, we are checking in with theaters all around the country, talking to them about how they are handling these difficult circumstances, learning what they are doing to move forward, and discovering the best way for people to help regional theaters during this time.

Today we're checking in with Paper Mill Playhouse!


First of all, I want to check in on the health and wellbeing of everyone at Paper Mill. How is everyone doing during this difficult time?

The Paper Mill staff has stayed connected, healthy and for the most part positive during the health crisis until last week. The past few weeks have been spirit crushing and unbearable for all of us at Paper Mill. We are truly heartbroken by the racial injustice, and the unspeakable police brutality and violence that lead to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, and James Scurlock and the many more who came before them. These events have prompted a great deal of soul searching, reflection and desire for change among the staff. These times would be hard enough to navigate without the added complication of not be able to be together.

What do the days look like right now for those who work at Paper Mill?

We have relied a great deal on video conferencing and spend most of our days on Zoom and Microsoft Team calls in an effort to stay connected with our staff and community.

How much planning is going on both short term and long term for the theater?

We are currently working on plans to safely get our staff back to the theater and hope we can all be back together there soon.

Longer term planning includes looking at several scenarios with the goal of safely providing our subscribers and fans a five-show season while also looking at different capacity levels and time frames. We hope as we get more information from state government and health officials, we will be able to solidify and share the plan so we can move forward with a great season. We are also using this moment to expand and galvanize our commitment to the equity, diversity and inclusion work that had already begun at Paper Mill. It is our intention to use this time to increase our efforts with increased financial and human resources to continue to support the work of our EDI committee including further assessing our programing choices and hiring practices.

Do you have plans to bring any previously filmed productions/upcoming events/classes etc. online?

Paper Mill Playhouse is currently offering free access to three online series and we are releasing new episodes weekly. We stream selections from our Humanities Symposiums, and New Voices concerts from years past, plus we are producing a new program called "Babbling by the Brook." It features me in conversation with a variety of Paper Mill's favorite artists. All appear on our Facebook and YouTube channels at 7pm EST, and are available for viewing after as well.

We also presented the Rising Star Honors, a very special event last week. In place of the annual Rising Star Awards that could not take place, Paper Mill acknowledged the talent and dedication to theater in the New Jersey public schools with a virtual celebration of the 2020 participating schools. Rising Star Honors, presented by the Investors Foundation, is a joyous heartwarming montage of the work of over 70 participating high schools along with our special host, Rising Star winner, Broadway performer and Olivier nominee, Jared Gertner with appearances by Rising Star Alumni including Tony Award winners Laura Benanti, Nikki M. James and Tony nominee Rob McClure.

Our Education department continued to teach our spring session virtually and will offer our Summer Conservatory through online classes beginning in July.

What is the best way for people to help Paper Mill right now?

We are currently in the final weeks of our Curtain Up! campaign, and contributions of any amount will help us in our effort to Raise the Curtain once again on world-class musical theater. Currently contributions will go twice as far thanks to the Bye family's generous matching gift!

Another great way is to order from our amazing restaurant. The Carriage House Restaurant in the F.M. Kirby Carriage house is open for curbside pickup for you to enjoy great meals at home. In addition, when we are permitted, we will offer outdoor seating along the brook with musical entertainment.

For more information, visit Papermill.org and to make a donation use this link.


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