Scene and Heard

NOTE! New Time: 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Dear Friends of Hartford Stage,

These last days many of us have been distressed by news of the fires in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California. We’ve had friends and colleagues lose homes; we’ve seen photos of the skies over loved ones turn unprecedented colors. There’s that word again: unprecedented. As we try to move forward through this pandemic, looking for ways to celebrate the continuing creativity and spirit of our communities, it is all the more painful to see the increased challenges and losses around us.

My eye was drawn to this excerpt in a news report:

“The…fire started around 1:30 p.m. Sept. 7. Within an hour, the fire engulfed the town and destroyed about 80% of the town’s buildings…the fire station, City Hall, post office, and library were destroyed. ‘The scale of this disaster really can’t be expressed in words,’ the County Sheriff, said in a statement. ‘The fire will be extinguished, but a community has been changed for a lifetime.’”

A library is a crucial part of a thriving community.

How fitting then that Hartford Stage and the Hartford Public Library have been close collaborators over the years, and that on this coming week’s Scene and Heard: LIVE! we will celebrate our partnership with the HPL. Did you know about our Library Pass program, that has ensured that 4626 of free tickets to our productions have been shared with anyone who holds a Hartford Public Library card? Did you know there is a library cart in our lobby, inviting patrons of the Stage to read books associated with the production in our theatre?

We have “Neighborhood Ambassadors," an intimate, intergenerational group from across the city, nominated by HPL librarians, that gathers together throughout the year to dialogue about our lives in Connecticut and how they are reflected in the work on our stage. 

Neighborhood Ambassadors

The Neighborhood Ambassadors Program

Like theatres, libraries are gathering places, and spaces in which our focus is on a search for a greater understanding of ourselves and the Other. Places that celebrate a diversity of ideas and perspectives, and encourage us to look beyond our own world view.

We need our libraries, and now more than ever we must note and prioritize the institutions that define us as thinking, conscious, caring people. Institutions that raise the quality of our lives, and of our neighborhoods. Given the additional complexities of our political and cultural moment, we’ve added another collaboration to our partnership – a new book club, called “Deep Appreciation,” committed to the practice of anti-racism in its gatherings, and will feature live readings, interactive dialogue and reflections on fiction and poetry by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) authors, past and present. The first virtual meeting will be on October 22. Stay tuned for more details to come.

There is much to be concerned about in our country right now, but there is also much to celebrate. We have challenges to embrace, and opportunities to rise beyond our limitations. Join me and special guests from the HPL to discuss our joint commitment to our region, to the enrichment of our civic life, and to the pleasures of connecting with each other.

Hope to see you Wednesday - note the new time – 6:30 to 7:30 pm!    

Warmly, and gratefully,


Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone

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