Summit Daily letters: Why Backstage is important to our mountain town
September 12, 2018
Why Backstage is important to our mountain town
Emotion allows us to experience life's greatest joys like watching our children take their first skiing lesson, fiercely kick a soccer ball into the goal or bravely stand on a stage and sing in front of an audience. We also get to experience the other side of the spectrum; that fall on the slopes, the missed goal or the wrong note. Happy or upset, it's easy to get carried away by emotion; especially when we only see one side of the story or think we know the whole one.
Here are some facts about the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre.
• Our production of "Annie" just ran seven shows, receiving rave reviews and 54 of the 57 member cast were from our community.
“Boycotting the theater isn’t the answer. It hurts our town and the people who live here that benefit from having a cultural experience in their own backyard. I, like you, grow as an individual by having access to the arts.”
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• In April, our Children's STEP program had to run a double cast for Mary Poppins because so many kids wanted to participate.
• Our Fall Children's Program which begins September 10th is sold out.
• The Backstage Theatre produces on average eight shows annually and each season averages five to six visiting directors.
These are programs that wouldn't be available without the Backstage and we need the support of the people who live in our town to deliver them.
We have more than 200 volunteers that help with every production from set building to costume design they put in endless hours because they love being part of the theatre. They are the heart of the theatre and our collective experience.
Boycotting the theatre isn't the answer. It hurts our town and the people who live here that benefit from having a cultural experience in their own backyard. I, like you, grow as an individual by having access to the arts.
Our community is better for it and more importantly, our children are better for it. The mission of the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre is "to enrich, educate and entertain Summit County children, residents and visitors through opportunities to participate and experience the joy of live theatre. Our passion is building community through the performing arts."
It would be more productive for people to get involved and support the theater as it enters its next chapter in our community's history. I am very excited to be the next Executive Director of the Backstage Theatre and I hope you all will join me as we change, grow and bring new life into the theater that has provided more than 40 years of education, fun and entertainment for our community.
Who knows, one of these children may grow up to direct our next production, write their own play or perform on Broadway!
Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
Backstage Theatre board lacks knowledge, backbone
The recent actions by the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre board of directors, particularly board president Nina Jannetti, are not only contemptible, but display a disturbing ignorance of theater's proud history.
Modern theater was born in ancient Greece; not coincidentally, also the birthplace of the world's first democracy. From the beginning, social commentary — including political satire — has been a part of theater. Later, Shakespeare's work frequently took shots at kings, queens and tyrants (think "Richard III"). From Marlowe, to Shaw, Wilde, O'Neill and many more up to the present, playwrights have confronted the status quo, sometimes angering audiences but more important, challenging us to think.
Evidently, thought and theater are no longer compatible under the current Backstage board. A brief satirical skit involving President Trump at the theater's annual fundraiser apparently outraged a handful of donors accounting for a tiny fraction of funds raised that night (in total, a record-setting $100,000+). Jannetti and the board immediately fell to their knees, groveled for forgiveness and declared: "Please know that this will not happen again."
My, what backbone. Instead of supporting the executive director who organized the most successful fundraiser in the theater's history — as well as the artistic director who gave Summit County its finest theatrical productions ever — the board threw them and the theatre's integrity under the bus over a few thousand bucks, at most. (Adjusted for inflation, this amount is roughly equivalent to 30 pieces of silver a couple of millennia ago.)
I and others in the community can't support a theatre that allows its artistic content to be censored by a few petulant whiners. Moreover, the board has clearly demonstrated its ignorance of theater's important role in stimulating thought and discussion. Shame on you all. It's time for you to go.
Leaving theatre over apology shows lack of maturity
This whole controversy with the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre is actually a clarifying moment. First off, if the directors left because they had to issue a letter of apology, this is a case of extreme immaturity. If my husband had quit his job every time he had to issue an apology for something he didn't do, he would never have had a successful career. Second, the many people I have known who work in the theater world value emotion over thought in many areas, including making career decisions. With immaturity and emotions in play, it's not really surprising that some directors quit the theater over this small matter. We don't need to keep rehashing this sad situation. Let's just move on and hope for a bright future ahead for the theater.