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AFD Theatre looks ahead, seeks your ideas

UPDATED, Sept. 11: In a Sept. 10 email to friends and supporters, the Arlington Friends of the Drama said it is keeping an eye on what could occur after Covid-19.ADF logo

Program Director Ellen Kazin and AFD President Judy Weinberg wrote: "This has certainly been a trying time for anyone working or playing in the arts communities. At AFD, we are working to provide some alternate programming to keep the dream alive. We are planning for a brilliant future!

"The Play Reading Committee, led by Kazin, is reading and studying ways to connect with Arlington Community Media cable TV to capitalize on a cooperation that will get our message out to the public. We hope to do this with conversations and short plays.

"And we are also looking at the possibility of streaming some live programming to our membership. This is all part of the new reality that has come with Covid-19; it's a tricky road to navigate, but we feel we're getting a handle on it.

"At the same time, the committee is hard at work in an effort to come up with a 2021-2022 season at the theater. Given the current crisis, we are hopeful that this will happen."

The committee -- Sandy Armstrong, Jim Grana, Jocelyn Hesse, Mary Fitzpatrick Hummon, Joe Stallone, Richard Sullivan and Kazin -- welcomes your input. You can find any of us through the AFD website or by emailing  info at

 AFD Theatre cancels 2020-21 season

After ending "Love's Labour's Lost" early and then canceling "Gypsy," the board of the Arlington Friends of the drama has taken a longer view, and, in view of the pandemic, it has canceled the 2020-21 season.

In an email to supporters May 24, AFD President Judy Weinberg wrote:

"It is with a very heavy heart I inform you that the AFD Board of Directors has decided to postpone our 2020-2021 season during this COVID-19 pandemic. This was not an easy decision. However, the more we learn about coronavirus, the more we realized this was the only decision we could responsibly make.   

"For the last two months, we have been hard at work, attending informative webcasts and Zoom meetings and consulting with area theaters about the implications of presenting theatrical productions during these strange and uncertain times. Unfortunately, the latest science strongly suggests that it won't be possible for AFD to mount or reliably schedule productions -- with large casts and appropriately socially distant audience seating and recommended protocols -- at our beautiful theater any time soon.

"The board debated the merits of postponing only our fall shows (Bright Star and Anne of Green Gables), and holding off making a decision now about the spring shows (Robin Hood and Noises Off). Different scenarios were discussed, with each scenario having one or more serious drawbacks. The more the board thought about the practical issues we face, the more we realized that postponing the season was the only sensible course of action.

"We hope the situation will improve to the point where we can present simpler, smaller productions at some point during the spring of 2021. The board will now focus on projects that are more likely to succeed safely, and we think this plan provides AFD and our audiences the fastest and safest path to a successful reopening.

"We look forward to announcing our next production to you, and you can be assured that we will make that announcement as soon as we feel we can. For now, we hope that you will understand we believe that by being proactive today, we are positioning AFD to return to making theater for you -- and with you -- as quickly as possible."

 AFD Theatre cancels 'Gypsy' after 'Love's Labour's Lost'

March 11, 2020: AFD Theatre had begun presenting "Love's Labour's Lost," which was to run through March 22. Now, in a time of continued public concern about the coronavirus, the board for the theater at 22 Academy St. has updated its message to  members, subscribers and patrons, canceling its next show, "Gypsy."

With sadness in our hearts for a production we know would have been amazing, we regret to announce that we have canceled our May 1-17 production of Gypsy.

The CDC and Town of Arlington public health recommendations in the face of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic make it clear that it is impossible for the cast and crew to safely prepare for the show in the coming weeks.

We did not make this decision lightly and all possible avenues for proceeding have been explored. Although we hoped that the show could be postponed until June, too many people are not available at that time to stage the production. 

We will be contacting you in a short time about how to donate, exchange, or, if necessary, request a refund for your tickets.

Although on March 11, we announced we would be proceeding with the remaining performances of Love's Labour's Lost, yesterday, as new information appeared and new government guidance was issued, the AFD Board has reconsidered its decision. We deeply regret informing you that we are cancelling the following performances of Love's Labour's Lost at AFD.

  • Friday, March 13
  • Saturday, March 14
  • Sunday, March 15
  • Friday, March 20
  • Saturday, March 21
  • Sunday, March 22

On March 11, the Town of Arlington reviewed the latest guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and from the office of Governor Charlie Baker and also from state and federal authorities. Based on this information and given the State of Emergency declared by Governor Charlie Baker, the Town of Arlington put immediate measures in place to cancel until further notice Arlington Senior Center programming and Arlington Recreation Department meetings, events, and programming. The town of Arlington coronavirus updates can be seen online >>

At this time, when our elected leaders and health experts urge social distancing, AFD's community responsibility must outweigh our artistic hope. We are citizens of Arlington, and the safety and well-being of our audiences, our volunteers, our performers, and especially our community comes first.

Ticket holders will be contacted directly by email with details on how to exchange tickets for a future performance, make a donation to AFD, or, if necessary, request a refund.

While we usually say "See you at the theater," this time we say community health and safety takes priority.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website and the CDC website

This news announcement, which includes opinion, was published Wednesday, March 11, 2020, and updated March 19 and May 24.

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