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A Letter From Waterwell’s Artistic Director, Lee Sunday Evans

Dear Waterwell Community,

I am writing to you, our beloved community of artists, audiences, students, parents, activists and educators, with a full and heavy heart in the midst of these very fragile and uncertain times.

I love this city. I love gathering groups of people to sit in a room and listen to stories. Every fiber of my being tells me that in times of crisis what we should do is gather in theaters, in schools, in churches, in all public spaces and make life-affirming events that remind us of our connections and our shared humanity.

In this moment when the very fundamental tenet of live performance is put on hold for very good reasons – for our health and for the greater good – we at Waterwell are holding on to each other thru the digital platforms that we are grateful to have available to us, and thinking deeply about how to transform our passion for story-telling into life-affirming artworks that will take new forms on new timelines.

We are lucky that Waterwell’s culture and ethos has always been infused with resilience, joy, and imagination. This company has a hearty and infectious ability to respond to curve-balls with kindness, good humor and integrity. Even though the scope of this public health crisis is unprecedented, I am confident that all these strengths of Waterwell’s core culture and ethos will remain true and steadfast for however long our society faces the challenges that this virus presents.

As you can imagine, our upcoming performances of The Courtroom are postponed until further notice. The excitement has not abated around our upcoming New Works Lab production of Eliza Bent’s inventive and whip-smart new play The S.S. Crouton and other tales, though it is also postponed until further notice. We will certainly be in touch when we have more information about the 2nd Annual Fleet Week Follies, which has not yet been officially announced but we know many of you are looking forward to during Memorial Day weekendWe are currently strategizing about how our narrative-advocacy project The Flores Exhibits can move forward on-line, and in particular contribute to important conversations about the rights of immigrants in detention facilities during this public health crisis.

Now that NYC Public Schools are closed down, Director of Education Heather Lanza and Education Associate Christina Gonzalez are working hard to quickly implement a theater education distance learning curriculum via digital classrooms. Our entire faculty of remarkable teaching artists is rising to the occasion with robust, vibrant ideas about how to reach students in their homes so their growth as young artists and thinkers continues. While it is unsurprising to see the high-caliber of intelligence and creativity these brilliant teaching artists bring to the table to quickly and effectively pivot in response to these new circumstances, their hard work in the face of these challenges – logistical, spiritual and emotional – must not be underestimated or taken for granted.

We hope this message finds you gathered at home as safely and comfortably as possible. We would love to hear from you – we welcome updates and news about you, your families, loved ones, and your communities. We are eager to find creative ways to proactively respond to this period of isolation with a renewed dedication to the power of communication and connection.

And, I hope that for all of us this can be a time for nourishing reflection and creativity. In that spirit, I’m sharing a small excerpt from one of my favorite poets:

– me now slowly backing up

the dusty driveway into the law

composed of updraft, downdraft, weight of those dried mid-winter leaves,

light figured-in too, I’m sure, the weight of light,

and angle of vision, dust, gravity, solitude,

and the part of the law which is the world’s waiting,

and the part of the law which is my waiting,

and then the part which is my impatience – now; now? —

 

though there are, there really are,

things in the world, you must believe me.

– Jorie Graham. “The Steering Wheel.” Materialism

 

In solidarity, and with love,