In this incredibly difficult year – of pandemic, of revolution – we have found ourselves facing a paradox: we’ve never been more alone – or more interconnected. The spread of a virus around the globe makes that abundantly clear, as does the call to dismantle the systems of oppression we have benefited from. And from our weekly meetings, often Zooming in from hundreds of miles apart, this reflection has led us to redouble our commitment to our mission:
How can we create a home for collaborative theater that uplifts each individual?
How can we become better listeners, better amplifiers, and better collaborators?
And how can we create real community when we can’t be together?
While we ponder the answers to these questions, one thing is clear: We need each other now, more than ever.
Part of the way forward is accessibility: an understanding that folks in our community might not have the ability to pay for theater if they are out of a job. As a result, almost all of our programming in 2020 has been absolutely free, from our pay-what-you-can devising workshops to our community-building Virtual Assemblies, designed to gather our community of artists and audiences together for art and conversation when we sorely needed it. Some of our work has been internal. Our company has been meeting regularly about how to build and support an inclusive community and equitable collaborative practice. And we are proud to have honored our commitments to contracted artists in the 2020 season, continuing to develop In Corpo with composer Nate Weida, and supporting two thrilling new projects by beloved Assembly artists and colleagues in our Deceleration Lab.
But there has been a cost to the events of this year: without the ability to gather, we were unable to hold key fundraising and community-building events, like our popular low-country boils and our annual fall parties. Reliable government grant sources are in peril due to budget cuts. The Assembly co-artistic directors furloughed themselves for four months, while working as hard as ever to adapt to this new era. While there is still so much uncertainty surrounding our health as individuals and as a company, as a community and as a nation, there is hope. There is the vision for a greater future and a genuine yearning to find the answers to seemingly unsolvable issues. And as we reflect on our history and our future, we know that our community is key to our success and our survival.
If The Assembly and our mission mean something to you, which we hope it does, we ask you to contribute this year – whatever you can. And even if you’re unable to contribute financially, to drop us a note and tell us how you’re doing. We create for and are sustained by our connections – the incredible network of people we’ve grown with in the past decade plus. And to continue that work, we need you.
Thank you for being a part of The Assembly!
Steve, Ben, Emily, Jess, and Meredith