Hartford Stage
Hartford Stage
Scene and Heard
Scene and Heard

Dear Friends of Hartford Stage,

A belated New Year’s greeting as I invite you to our first Scene and Heard: LIVE! of 2021.

It’s a week of transitions and firsts, and we at Hartford Stage are in the midst of envisioning with pragmatic hope how, and when, we will welcome you back to our theatre: we are reading plays and budgeting productions, and thinking about you – our audience.

The gift of live theatre is a connection between a work and its public, and so I was struck when a gifted writer and friend, Kim McLarin, spoke to me about not knowing who she was writing for. This is a burning question for her as a writer, as she turns her memoir, Divorce Dog, into a one-person play.

Divorce Dog is an honest and often laugh-out-loud funny meditation on being a Black woman in “White America”, and explores depression, dating, motherhood, and race, as well as myriad other subjects, and it’s a book that will make a terrific evening of theatre. In the structuring of a one-person show, a key question a writer must answer is: to whom is the performer speaking while on stage? The answer seems obvious, the Audience. But who is this Audience? And in particular, who is the Audience that a Black woman is trying to reach? Does the author’s voice shift when imagining a predominantly White, or predominantly Black audience, or a diverse gathering?

A voice that Kim harkens to frequently during Divorce Dog is the writer James Baldwin, who himself turned to the theatre in the 1960’s, writing two plays both of which were produced on Broadway. In 1969 when asked why he’d started writing for the theatre, Baldwin answered by describing an experience with Lorraine Hansberry after her premiere of A Raisin in the Sun:

Lorraine and I found ourselves in the backstage alley, where she was immediately mobbed. I produced a pen and Lorraine handed me her handbag and began signing autographs …. I stood there and watched. I watched the people, who loved Lorraine for what she had brought to them: and watched Lorraine, who loved the people for what they brought to her. 

This connection – they loved her for what she brought to them, she loved them for what they brought to her – is what we all wish for in our work on our stages.

Join us this Wednesday as we hear excerpts of Divorce Dog, read by the extraordinary Miranda ADEkoje, and together explore how, at this new moment in this new year, with hope and optimism, we can create more connections with a diversity of writers as we welcome a diversity in our audiences. 


Another Day's Begun

Join Hartford Stage and The Mark Twain House & Museum for a lively dialogue with Howard Sherman, author of the new book "Another Day's Begun" about Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Our Town. Hartford Stage Artistic Director Melia Bensussen and Sherman will talk about the book and swap stories about working at Hartford Stage, where Howard served as public relations director in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

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