The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and Triad Stage, the professional not-for-profit theatre company located in downtown Greensboro, have reached an agreement for three new productions in The Arts Council’s Hanesbrands Theatre over the next several months. Describing the agreement as a “strategic affiliation,” Jim Sparrow, Arts Council President and CEO, said the net effect will be to strengthen the Triad theatre community and increase opportunities for audiences to enjoy quality, professional theatre in Winston-Salem.
During the holiday season, Triad Stage will bring to Hanesbrands Theatre (December 10 – 22, 2013) the timeless Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Originally produced in Greensboro in 2010, this adaptation written by Lane was called “Not just A Christmas Carol, but THE Christmas Carol, as Dickens intended” by Classical Voice of North Carolina. In February, Triad Stage will present Red, by John Logan (February 11 – 23, 2014). Red gives a glimpse into the life of artist Mark Rothko set in his studio in the late 1950s. Its limited Broadway run resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Play. Finally, Brother Wolf will wrap up Triad Stage’s inaugural season in Winston-Salem. Written by Lane, with music and lyrics by popular Triad based singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett, Brother Wolf blends folklore, myth, music and mountain religion in an Appalachian adventure tale based on the story of Beowulf (May 6 – 18, 2014).
Lane said, “When Rich Whittington and I conceived and founded our theatre company 13 years ago, we named it ‘Triad’ Stage with the idea that it would be the premier professional theatre serving the Piedmont Triad. We honor the Triad in our name and welcome this opportunity to deepen our commitment to the region by creating professional theatre for Winston-Salem audiences in Hanesbrands Theatre, one of the region’s premier performance venues.”
North Carolina native Lane is a graduate of The University of North Carolina School of the Arts and has maintained strong ties there. Those ties were not forgotten while Lane and managing director Richard Whittington attended Yale University School of Drama and decided to bring a regional theatre to the Triad. Triad Stage also made it a priority to hire UNC School of the Arts graduates and created internships for UNCSA students to provide practical experiences within the industry to boost their formal training. “I became an artist because of my time in Winston-Salem. Creating theatre here feels like coming home,” Lane said.
The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County is making approximately $730,000 in grants available to nine theatre groups this grant year, including funding to support Triad Stage’s Winston-Salem productions. “We have a strong vested interest in theatre and seeing all the companies we support do well,” said Sparrow.
In July, The Arts Council created a Theatre Support Task Force to develop a creative vision for the theatre community in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, explore the possibility of a new model for Arts Council theatre grant making and look for additional partners for Hanesbrands Theatre. Leon Porter, former Arts Council Annual Campaign chair, is heading the group whose primary focus has been on professional theatre.
Sparrow praised the work of the Task Force and said, “Hanesbrands Theatre is a young venue, and its role in the Winston-Salem and greater Triad theatre community is still evolving. There are things we want it to represent. First and foremost is quality. Second is diversity. We are doing a good job with both, but we still have nights when the theatre is dark. This affects bottom line and viability. The Task Force has looked at a lot of options and concluded that this strategic alliance with Triad Stage is a rare opportunity to move forward the concept of ‘Triad’ in the arts community at large and strengthen the entire theatre community in Winston-Salem.”
Sparrow noted that since Triad Stage made its appearance on the Greensboro theatre scene 13 years ago, attendance has increased across the board at both professional and amateur productions. “We believe that a rising tide raises all ships,” Sparrow said. ‘Triad Stage has served as a catalyst in Greensboro and groups there have moved forward together. We want to make sure we have a full menu of quality professional and amateur offerings in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County each season. We are proud of the theatre community here and The Arts Council historically has been extremely supportive. We will continue to do that, I am certain, as we work to enhance Winston-Salem’s reputation as a regional destination for good, quality theatre,” Sparrow said.
Through the efforts of the Task Force, Hanesbrands Theatre has scheduled 13 different productions to be performed by five new groups, plus some that have performed in the venue before. This represents 100 performances and 24 weeks of theatrical presentations.