COVID-19 and Four County Players

Update 6.12.2020:
Four County Players family,

A few weeks ago, we sent out a survey to our community to gather thoughts and opinions on when, and under what circumstances, audiences would feel comfortable returning to Four County Players to enjoy live theater in the wake of COVID-19. We are so grateful that we received more than double our usual amount of survey responses!

The survey confirmed for us what we already knew: the landscape of theater isn’t going to be the same for quite awhile. Even with social distancing and stringent precautions in place, there is no way to continue “business as usual” with the kinds of large-scale shows that Four County Players has been producing. Additionally, since we are seeing data that show that some infected singers can become “super-spreaders” of COVID-19, it has become clear that big musicals are not advisable at this time.

Following the theater’s decision to postpone this summer’s planned production of URINETOWN, our programming committee, which is typically inactive from March – August, reconvened to discuss what adjustments can be made to our way of making and presenting theater moving forward — both short and long term.

After much discussion and deliberation, we are announcing that our originally planned Season 48 (2020 – 2021) is postponed.

What does this season postponement mean, exactly? It means that ELF: THE MUSICAL and RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA are being rescheduled for the 2021 – 2022 season, when we will hopefully be able to do these shows as they were intended: big, bright, and with lots of people! It means that we will not be producing any shows in the Cellar space through at least spring 2021. It means that our schedule will not look the same, and that it will continue to evolve as we all work our way together through the COVID-19 crisis.

Does this mean Four County Players is closed, or staying “dark”? Absolutely not! By postponing the originally planned 2020 – 2021 season, we are allowing ourselves the flexibility to make theater on an adjustable timeline — being able to respond to the ever-changing pandemic crisis in real time without having to worry about the domino effects even the slightest date change can have on a full season of planned shows. Our goal is to begin announcing one show at a time as they become feasible. You may even see some of the previously announced Season 48 smaller-cast shows make an appearance!

To “test the waters,” we are excited to announce that our next show, currently scheduled to run August 28 – September 6, will be a one-act consisting of three selections from David Ives’s ALL IN THE TIMING, a collection of comedic short plays, directed by Anna Grey Hogan. This production will be auditioned and rehearsed virtually, by and large, and will introduce our audiences to a new socially-distant seating model in addition to other precautions. Look for a detailed announcement about this coming in the next week!

As was said in an earlier announcement, the times are changing, and we are changing along with them. But our commitment to you remains unchanged: we will continue to make art, while always putting community before theater.

Finally, we want to make it clear that this community of which we speak includes our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color) family, who have long been under- and mis-represented in American Theatre at large, including at Four County Players. While it has always been our mission to be a welcoming, inclusive family to anyone who walks through our doors, we know there is much work to be done. If there is something good to come out of this interruption in our plans, it is that we have been given the gift of time to challenge and change inequitable structures, ideas, and behaviors that have been upheld by the systemic racism in our country. We are grateful for the opportunity to do this work both as we enter this new era, and for the rest of our organization’s future.

Central Virginia’s longest-running community theater isn’t going away; we’re going forward. Please join us on this journey. We need each other.

With love and hope,

The Four County Players Board of Directors
The Four County Players Programming Committee

Update  5.19.2020:

Four County Players Family,

As the state of Virginia starts its tentative move into Phase I of re-opening, we are constantly re-assessing our summer plans at Four County Players. After initially pressing “pause” on many of our plans, we are now ready to make the following announcements regarding Summer 2020:

1. The planned production of Urinetown: The Musical will be postponed to a future season. See the accompanying video from directors Anna Grey Hogan and Miranda Hogan for their message regarding this difficult decision.

2. We are also sad to announce that we will not hold our 4CP Summer Camps this year due to the ongoing pandemic. While we have talked about different social distancing options, we feel that the true spirit of our summer camp is the connections and fun we all have together in person, and that is just not possible right now. We may work on producing some free online content over the summer break, but at this time we are not planning any in-person events. We look forward to resuming camp next summer.

3. Other popular events, such as our Annual Volunteer Party, will have to be postponed until a time when we can enjoy being together again.

4. Our Annual Membership Meeting will be held virtually on June 15 at 7 pm. A notice about that meeting went out last week to all current members; if you did not receive that notice and think you should have, contact the Box Office at 4countyplayers@gmail.com to check on the status of your membership.

These are challenging, rapidly-changing times, and we are changing along with them to the best of our abilities. Around the globe, theaters of all shapes and sizes are being forced to make difficult, unprecedented decisions, and Central Virginia’s longest-running community theater is no different. Four County Players has every intention and hope that we will come out stronger on the other side of this pandemic, as long as we remember that community must come before theater. The health and safety of our staff, volunteers, and patrons is at the foremost of every choice we have made so far, and will continue to make. That is our promise to you.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more announcements as we progress further into Virginia’s phases of reopening. Specifically, look for an audience survey in the coming days to give you the opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings with us.

Looking forward,
Your Board of Directors
Four County Players

Update: 4.8.2020:
The deadline for the Four County Players Founders Scholarship has been extended. Applications will be due on May 1.

Update: 3.22.2020:
Dear Four County Players community,

As I am writing this, we are one week into the extreme social isolation being mandated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The world around us, our plans, and our regular routines have all been disrupted by the pandemic.

Last weekend, the leadership of Four County Players made the difficult decision to cancel the remaining performances of The Mousetrap. On Sunday, the production team and cast of Cellar in Blue, our April Songs in the Cellar installment, said farewell to the plans and dreams they had for that production.

Today, Sunday, March 22, I am sad to announce that we have taken the subsequent step of canceling the May production of Mamma Mia!, thereby bringing our 47th season to an abrupt close. We had hoped that waiting a week would give us better clarity about how the coronavirus will affect events further out, but it has become clear that restrictions on groups of more than 10 people are not going to be ending soon enough for us to get the show ready by May 15.

Mamma Mia! is a musical that we had been looking forward to having on our stage for a long time, and it is shocking that it will not be happening this year. While we considered many options for trying to fit it into a new slot in the near term, the best we can say right now is that we hope to get it back on our schedule again in a future season.

I hope that you and your families will keep yourselves safe and sane during this unprecedented time. Please know that your Four County Players family will be ready to welcome everyone back for more quality community theater as soon as we are able.

In solidarity,
Debbie Owen
President

 

Update: 3.16.2020
It is with great sadness that Four County Players announces the cancellation of Cellar in Blue
, this season’s Songs in the Cellar show. This decision comes following the CDC’s recommendation that all gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled for the next eight weeks. This timeline goes well past Cellar in Blue’s scheduled performance run of April 10–19. For the safety of our performers, production team, volunteers, employees, and community, we must do our part to limit the exposure and spread of COVID-19.

Tickets for Cellar in Blue had not yet been released for sale to the public, but if you purchased a ticket via a season subscription, please contact the box office at 4countyplayers@gmail.com for a voucher for a future performance or to designate your purchase as a donation to the theater. Thank you for your understanding and support during this time.

Update: 3.14.2020
Four County Players has made the difficult decision to cancel all future performances of The MousetrapThis announcement comes after consideration of advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Virginia Department of Health, the Governor’s decisions about containing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and our overriding desire to protect the health of our community.

This is a rapidly changing situation and Four County Players has not made this decision lightly. We are very grateful for the cast and crew of The Mousetrap for the beautiful show that they created and for the audiences that were able to see and appreciate the show.

Four County Players is offering to exchange your ticket for another show in 2020 or accept the value of your unused ticket as a tax-deductible donation to Four County Players. Please contact the box office at 4countyplayers@gmail.com.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.  We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the theater as soon as possible.