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Pendragon takes an intermission

Pendragon Theatre’s current home, on Brandy Brook Avenue in Saranac Lake, has a red light in its front window Sept. 1 as part of a nationwide #RedAlertRESTART Day of Action. (Provided photo — Michael Friedman, Pendragon Theatre)

For over 40 years, Pendragon has been the backbone of theater in the Adirondacks. We have created and nourished a family dedicated to providing creative and excellent theater for you, our audience, through performance and educational programs.

This past January, we opened Act I of the 2020 version of “The Pendragon Play” with a bang. Among other programs, we supported Acting and Playwriting classes for both adults and kids, the Young Playwrights Festival, a Veterans Improvisation PTSD therapeutic program with St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center, Puppet Workshops, partnership with ADKX (Adirondack Experience), the Winter Carnival show “Life, Love & Legends: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir” produced by Joe Dockery, and work with JMZ Architects on our exciting new building project on Woodruff Street.

And then, mid March, smack in the middle of Act I, a new character charged onto the stage, unannounced and certainly unwelcome. COVID-19. It did not listen to the director, did not pay any attention to the script, and wreaked havoc.

As in any play when things go awry, the other actors shifted their actions and speech; technicians shifted lights, sound and scenery. While many theaters closed their doors, we jumped on the gigantic learning curve of virtual productions, and carried on education and therapeutic programs as well as limited productions through Zoom. We strived to continue to give to our community that same creative and excellent theater for which Pendragon has become so well known.

There is just so much a live theater company can do without a live audience. Kim Bouchard, artistic director, has had a tradition of saying just before each play we presented in the theater: “We are so glad you are here! The actors, technicians and director have all worked hard to get to this point, but it is not until now, when our audience arrives, that the play can truly take off. You are the last and most important part of the production.”

We have missed you, our live audience! Without you, we are not a complete family. And so, we have made the hard, responsible decision to take a temporary intermission until it is safe and the curtain rises once again on live, in-person theater.

As of Jan. 1, 2021, we will be on an temporary austerity budget with a furlough of staff, programs and productions, as well as putting a temporary hold on our new building project. After the first quarter, we will determine the most responsible actions to move forward. We will regroup, both as a theater and as a community, get this COVID-19 character off stage as soon as possible, and return with gusto.

Before our intermission, don’t forget our holiday show! We invite you to join us for “The Best Holiday TV Special That Never Aired,” streaming on select dates Dec. 18 through Dec. 31. Revisit favorite holiday memories with a twist with Pendragon stars new and old. Music, comedy, puppets and more in a fun-filled hour of cheer! https://www.pendragontheater.org/holiday-show.

Then, beginning Jan. 1, we will take a temporary intermission so when we raise the lights on Act II — when you, our audience, returns — we can move ahead together with appreciation for the strength and determination of our whole community/family. We are not just a theater in the community. We are a theater FOR the community. Art makes good communities great and great communities even stronger. Saranac Lake is a special place, and Pendragon looks forward to being a thriving part of the village’s growing reputation as the Adirondacks’ arts and culture hub.

On behalf of our staff, stakeholders and community, we are committed to adapting to new realities, and at the right time and in the appropriate manner, we will joyously welcome you back!

The play will resume shortly. When it’s safe to do so. And we will put on a fantastic show.

Lonnie Ford lives in Saranac Lake, is a veteran local actor and is president of the Pendragon Theatre board. He wrote this on behalf of the Pendragon board.

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