Florida Repertory Theatre will postpone its 2020-2021 Season for one calendar year. Announced in February, the nine-show professional season includes plays, musicals, and new works in the theatre’s two downtown Fort Myers venues, the Historic Arcade and ArtStage Studio Theatres.
In a statement to current season ticket holders on Tuesday, artistic director Greg Longenhagen said, “along with my team, I spent the summer weighing various options and have come to the tough, but necessary, decision to postpone the 2020-2021 Season. Rather than adapt the professional season to the changing times, we will move every production to the following year, 2021-2022.”
The box office staff is working to move existing reservations to the new season automatically, and customers will receive an updated order confirmation in the days following the announcement. Subscribers do not need to take any action if they do not wish to change their new order. Patrons wishing to make changes or discuss options for their household may call or email the box office at 239-332-4488 or [email protected].
Because of the uncertainty surrounding gatherings and public health, the theatre did not open sales for single tickets in July, as scheduled. New patrons can make reservations now for the 2021-2022 Season, and new blocks of tickets will go on sale later this fall. The decision to postpone the season and produce the same productions in the following year gives patrons more time than ever to secure seats for the professional subscription series productions now scheduled for September 2021 through May 2022.
Current subscribers also have the option to turn their 2021-2022 subscription into a tax-deductible donation to the theatre. Since closing its doors to the public in March, the theatre has sustained significant losses and laid off a number of staff members.
Longenhagen continued, “the best thing our season ticket holders can do to help us now is to leave their subscription dollars with us – either by rolling the reservation over to the 2021-2022 Season or by converting it to a tax-deductible donation. Anything you can do will help the theatre immeasurably as we navigate these difficult times. No matter what works best for your household, your generosity goes a long way.”
Postponing its professional season doesn’t mean Florida Rep won’t produce a 2020-2021 Season. In his statement to subscribers, Longenhagen said, “just because we can’t gather, doesn’t mean we’ll be silent!”
The theatre’s staff is busy planning a robust 2020-2021 season that blends virtual content with the magic of live theatre – and is hopeful for a return to its stages in early 2021 as soon as it is safe for audiences and artists. Florida Rep is exploring every option available, from enhancing digital content to possible outdoor venues that will allow patrons to share in-person performances safely.
After canceling the previous season’s final three productions in March, Florida Rep pivoted quickly to offer two shows for on-demand streaming, including “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” which received a rave review from The Wall Street Journal in April.
The theatre also kicked off a weekly talkback series, [email protected], hosted by Associate Artistic Director, Jason Parrish, which ran for 12 consecutive weeks featuring ensemble members, guest artists, and special guests for in-depth discussions on a wide range of topics. The theatre announced earlier this month that [email protected] is coming back in October, and plans to outline even more virtual programming for 2020 in the coming weeks.
Florida Rep’s Education Department also worked quickly following COVID-related shutdowns to offer virtual content. Its spring classes and popular summer camp went online and reached hundreds of students across Southwest Florida in May, June, and July.
Last season’s Theatre for Young Audiences Series production of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” also received a rave review from The Wall Street Journal and is currently available for on-demand viewing. Its in-person, outdoor classes began in late September with enhanced safety and sanitation measures for reduced class sizes, and the winter sessions are taking bookings.
The Education Department also kicked off a virtual reading series in August and continues on Sept. 24th with a 6 PM reading “She Kills Monsters, The Young Adventurers Edition” by Qui Nguyen on Zoom.
Florida Repertory Theatre and its Education Department are working closely to craft a hybrid virtual and in-person season that engages, entertains, and enlightens its audiences and students.