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Artistic Director, Tim Sanford

Artistic Director, Tim Sanford

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From Tim Sanford

A Word from Artistic Director Tim Sanford

In any other year, this would be a very, very good year for fundraising for Playwrights Horizons. In the last year, we’ve produced an amazing run of critically acclaimed shows, two of which, A Strange Loop and Heroes of the Fourth Turning, have been showered with accolades in the current award season. We passed the halfway mark in our 19/20 season with the late Michael Friedman’s and Daniel Goldstein’s beautiful, haunting musical, Unknown Soldier. We eagerly devised plans to share our work with the broader community. At the same time, we stood poised to announce a jam-packed lineup for our Fiftieth Anniversary, my final season at Playwrights. Then, COVID-19 cruelly shut us down. 

I was so proud that Michael Friedman’s Unknown Soldier opened so many ears to his superb musicianship. But that run was taken from us as was the tribute we had planned for him at our annual gala. How grimly ironic that his life was cut short by the pandemic of AIDS while our efforts to lift up his legacy this year were cut short by the current pandemic. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the sense of loss sweeping over us.

As I ponder the particular vulnerability we theater-makers must combat, I feel oddly comforted and almost proud. Theater, more than any other art form, requires living people gathering in a room to make art out of human beings. 

We can’t make our art without each other.

And that’s precisely the attribute of theater that makes it so necessary and powerful in our digital world. But COVID-19 would seemingly mock us by turning our tools against us. Just one case of the disease can spread to dozens, hundreds, thousands, in short order.  That’s also how plays work.

A play starts with a writer alone in a room. But it comes to life through the same kind of exponential transmission going from writer to reader to director to actor, then on to production with all hands on deck, until, at last, an audience. And when that artist’s vision catches fire, the production becomes a launching pad of an artistic, emotional, transformative experience that goes on to spread life and light to scores of future productions in years to come. 

A great deal of our work as a theater happens offstage, and facilitates the long journey a writer takes with his or her beloved collaborators, as they head towards that longed-for first performance for our audiences. While that beautiful payoff can’t happen for a while, our work continues. The playwriting community is counting on us to keep going, to keep nourishing the ongoing development of new work. And there is plenty of work to be done to support writers and to advocate for them; to help them dream big.  With your help, we can ensure our playwrights are able to absorb what we are going through and find ways to transform it into new work that will surprise and motivate and redefine us. We are determined to stay nimble as an organization, to deepen our developmental work and find ways to share it as soon as it is safe to gather. 

Your support today helps ensure that Playwrights Horizons will emerge strong from these difficult times. Our commitment to artists, audiences and the entire theater community is undiminished. Thank you for giving anything you can to help us continue our work now and as we embark on our next 50 years.

Tim Sanford
Artistic Director
May, 2020

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Tim Sanford portrait by Zack DeZon.