A letter in support of space from Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting to the Board of Trustees
Perhaps you’ve heard about the latest improvement happening to the C. Newton Schenck Mainstage — a hole, approximately 8′ X 8′ X 3′ deep. An unusual thing, one might suggest, to be excited over a hole, but excited we are. Now significant structural changes such as this are never taken lightly; in truth, we would be hard-pressed to recall the last time in recent memory that something like this has happened. But it is a thing that strikes at the very heart of our mission: the work we put on our stage.
The brainchild of Gordon Edelstein and scenic designer and associate artist Eugene Lee (and supported by the stalwart efforts of Technical Director Michael Wyant), this originated in a conversation over our upcoming production of Athol Fugard’s The Train Driver and more specifically the requirement of the play that a grave be dug over the course of the performance. It is true that the theatre might have made the simple choice to carve a hole just the size of the grave called for in Athol’s play, and then fill it up with the closing performance, but Ray Cullom had the foresight to recognize the possibilities for future productions inherent in a trap space; and so the initiative was taken to make this a permanent and adaptable addition to the theatre.
A hole, by itself, is nothing more than a void. Space. But there is power in this craft called theatre, to transform empty space, to ignite it, and the “trap” that will ultimately come of this endeavor will be a potent tool for directors and designers for years and years to come… Now this is not to glorify this bit of space. In truth, nothing will ever change the fact that Long Wharf’s Mainstage is — at its core — an actor’s theatre. A writer’s theatre. A space that celebrates the spoken word, the human journey, and the intimate exchanges that pass between audience and performer every night. But what this addition does contain is a new potential — for surprise, for delight, for discovery. And no one can deny the value of such in this most human of acts we engage in everyday: the telling of stories.