Phantom Theater, Warren, has been presenting live theater every summer since 1985. It was created in the spirit of a statement by Stella Adler, “The theater is a spiritual and social X-ray of its time.” Over the ensuing years it migrated from the Valley Players Theater to various temporary locations until it found a permanent home at the Edgcomb Barn in Warren.
Artistic director Tracy Martin, who has a master’s in dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has brought in many top-rated dance, music and theatrical performances with support from an active 13-member board, and an enthusiastic community of theatergoers.
In a letter to the Phantom board, Martin explained why she felt Phantom’s 2020 season should be canceled.
“I know this has been a challenging time for all of us. After listening to various perspectives from board members and others on whether or not to offer performances in our theater this summer, I searched my own mind and heart and came to the conclusion that our theater must reflect the times we are living in, as well as preserve what we are best known for -- a place of beloved gatherings and live entertainment.
As I see it, we have two threats to our well-being as a people and a country right now: COVID and racism/police brutality. Living with COVID, I want to support people’s need to prioritize their health and family. And as we live with protests and the upheaval surrounding the injustices in our country, I feel more inspired to let those “acts” take center stage this summer. I know I am not alone,” Martin wrote.
Martin said there was the possibility of offering a few pop-up performances and performances will be responsive, in some way, to what is happening in the world.
“Finally, on a personal note, I am moved to devote my own energies this summer -- mental, physical and emotional -- to the bigger issues our country (and state and town) are facing. It will be the first time in 31 years that I am not devoting my summer to Phantom Theater. I will miss it terribly, but the times are asking for something else. I want to be a positive force in other ways, she wrote
“Phantom going dark is in my mind a way of honoring all that our country is battling right now,” she added.