GREENSBORO, N.C. — Triad Stage, the professional regional theater in downtown Greensboro, is set to announce its 20th season in June after a two-year pause on live, in-person productions.
The two-year break allowed for a complete reimagining and reorganization of Triad Stage, including a new Board of Trustees structure and a reinforced commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity.
"We are really focusing on amplifying diverse forces," said Sarah Hankins, the new artistic director for the theater. "We are focusing on what are the partnerships that exist and then we are also focusing on creating Triad Stage as an arts hub for our community."
Over the two years, Triad Stage has developed a new zero-tolerance harassment policy, a new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Statement, and an Anti-Racism statement.
"Between the pandemic shutdown, the reporting of allegations of misconduct and related investigation, and the resignation of our former artistic director in late 2020, Triad Stage was left with an organization that had to be rebuilt from the ground up,” said Deborah Hayes, the current Triad Stage Chair, in a press release to News 2. “Behavior of the nature alleged in the media is antithetical to everything this community has a right to expect us to be - and everything we value to be - as an organization. We want to send a clear message that disrespectful, hostile, or abusive behavior has no place in our culture."
The non-profit theater also enlisted the help of an arts consulting organization called Partners in Performance and worked with a planning committee made up of people within the community.
Natalie Taylor Hart has been designing sets for Triad Stage for several years and was part of the planning committee.
"Over a period of months we engaged in various facilitated conversations and activities and polls and that sort of thing, trying to brainstorm and craft what what does the mission need to be? What is it that we are taking from our history? What is it that we want to leave behind? What do we want to change or add to our future? And it was really great," Taylor Hart said.
Hankins said the work they are doing is something that is happening across the theater industry as a whole.
"I think the entire theater industry has gone through a self-analysis I think thanks to COVID-19 and the protests of 2020," Hankins said. "So there's been sort of a reckoning in our industry but we have had to look at internal practices and recognize that they are not equitable and don't provide access for many people."
The theater did continue to do work online throughout the pandemic but live in-person performances were paused. Both Hankins and Taylor Hart said they're excited about the upcoming season.
"This upcoming season is bold," said Taylor Hart. "It’s focusing on women’s experiences, LGBTQIA experiences, black experiences. I think it’s so important that we at Triad Stage are thinking about community in that way. I love bold theater. I would rather see something surprising than something I expect and I think that people will be surprised and delighted in the upcoming season."
Hankins said Triad Stage also wants to be more connected with the community.
"I think Triad Stage has sometimes felt like a closed organization to folks in Greensboro and didn’t feel like everyone’s place to be," Hankins said. "I think that one of the things that’s important to me is that we open up those doors and that we also go out into our community and work with folks."
While Hankins said they could have opened up sooner, they needed to do a reevaluation of their organization to come back stronger.
"If we had not gone through this restructuring we would’ve reopened wrong we would’ve reopened with bad practices in place I think that we would’ve been just kind of reopening to reopen," Hankins said. "We're not just opening the doors to open the doors were opening the doors with purpose."
Triad Stage will announce the performances in its 20th season on June 4th.