Ashland New Plays Festival Announces 2021 Fall Festival Will Be Virtual
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Ashland New Plays Festival has reluctantly decided to present its 29th annual Fall Festival virtually, due to uncertainty about the course of the pandemic. The Festival’s Board of Directors met recently to consider plans for its annual flagship event. While it is not scheduled to take place until mid-October, the board and staff have been monitoring the local rise of COVID-19 cases closely.
A recent Mail Tribune article shared the worrisome numbers for the area: “Jackson County Public Health reported 149 cases Wednesday and a record 253 cases Tuesday, shattering a daily record of 188 cases that had been set last Friday.” In the same article, Asante Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jamie Grebosky says, “...those numbers are only going to increase over the next two to three weeks.”
Further, our county lags behind in vaccination rates and is classified as very high risk.
“In matters of health and well-being we have to be cautious,” says ANPF Board Secretary Kate Wolf-Pizor, “Looking at the Covid case graphs for Jackson County, we are in a major hot spot.”
While local cases may decline in the coming months, the board is not confident that ANPF will be able to present an in-person, indoor festival this fall. With production planning and casting already underway, the organization is at a pivotal decision point.
“We believe ANPF needs to err on the side of caution,” says ANPF Board President Peggy Moore. “We have been planning a live festival for months, and so looking forward to welcoming our audiences back to the theatre, but given the history of this virus, the number of unvaccinated people in our county, and the impact of the Delta variant, we do not feel it is safe to bring people together.”
Last year’s virtual festival, pulled together in the midst of the industry’s pivot to “Zoom Theatre,” exceeded expectations. Many patrons shared positive feedback about the medium’s intimacy as well as gratitude for the ongoing connection to the ANPF community of artists. The Board and artistic staff remain committed to planning a vibrant, interactive festival for 2021, providing the best theatrical viewing experience possible for our audiences.
“There’s a real silver lining here,” says ANPF Artistic Director Jackie Apodaca. “With a virtual festival we are able to bring together artists from all over the country and share these wonderful plays with a global audience. While I had really hoped to connect with everyone in person this year, I look forward to sharing our winning playwrights’ work far and wide.”
“I hope and wish that things will be improving by the time the festival comes around in October,” Bill Saltzstein, ANPF board treasurer, says. “Perhaps we can gather for in-person watch parties and a celebration.”
The Fall Festival will feature readings of new plays by winning playwrights Thomas Brandon, Meghan Brown, Andrew Lee Creech, and Tylie Shider, to be held virtually over Zoom October 20–24. Tickets will go on sale in September on our website: ashlandnewplays.org/season.