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Dark for two long years, Triad Stage Season 20 is called ‘stronger theatre’ | arts

GREENSBORO – Triad Stage reopens after a two-year hiatus in production caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden departure of its Artistic Director.

The regional professional theater, located downtown at 232 S. Elm St., will announce its 20th season of live in-person performances at an event on June 4th.

“The past few months have been intense work to listen to our community, transform our organization and emerge as a stronger theater,” said Sarah Hankins, the new artistic director replacing Preston Lane, in a press release.

Hankins was Associate Artistic Director for four years. She said she is “honoured to initiate programs that focus on diverse contemporary stories that reflect our community.”

“I can’t wait to welcome our audience back to a revitalized arts center that celebrates new work and creativity,” said Hankins.

Pending tickets purchased before the closure will be honored, said Justin Nichols, the theater’s director of patron engagement.

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Theater managers have not yet said exactly when the 300-seat theater will reopen.

“Through our process, which involved interviewing key whistleblowers and community members, they expressed that Triad Stage is valuable and they were keen for us to reopen with a greater investment in our local community,” Nichols said.

Theater managers have replaced the sewage pumps and roof, and installed new Wi-Fi portals throughout the building.

The awning covering the walkway into the back door of the parking garage will be repaired.

Some areas of the building will also receive a fresh coat of paint.

Triad Stage was formed in 1998 when Yale grads Lane and Richard Whittington came to Greensboro to start a non-profit professional theater downtown. They raised more than $5 million and turned the former Montgomery Ward department store into the home base for Triad Stage. It opened in January 2002.

Until 2019 Triad Stage produced classic plays by renowned playwrights as well as original productions of Lane with music by singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett. Actors from North Carolina and New York filled the cast.

Whittington left the company in June 2019, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. He is now Associate Vice Chancellor for Promotions at the UNC School of the Arts.

In March 2020 the theater was closed due to the pandemic.

Then, in November 2020, Lane resigned.

An article published by Triad City Beat, an alternative weekly, reported that some UNCG male theater alumni accused Lane of sexual abuse – allegations Lane has denied.

They said the alleged incidents happened when they were students at UNCG, where Lane taught part-time acting and directing until December 2019.

No criminal charges or civil suits have been filed in Guilford County.

As the pandemic eased last year, several other local arts venues reopened, including the new downtown Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts.

But Triad Stage remained closed. Its staff and board have engaged in reorganization and reflection with the help of arts consultant John McCann of Partners in Performance in Durham.

“This work has focused on creating a stronger and healthier environment for all who engage with Triad Stage and aims to restore trust in the community and staff,” the press release reads.

The Board of Trustees will have a new structure with shared leadership of three co-chairs – a model that is becoming more common in leading arts organizations.

Current chair Deborah Hayes is joined by co-chairs Cassandra Williams and Sarah Saint.

Williams, education coordinator for the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, is also a retired drama educator and actor, director, and playwright, and has served on the Triad Stage Board of Directors since 2019.

Saint, an attorney at Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey and Leonard, supports numerous local charities and has served on the board of Triad Stage since 2018.

“Between the pandemic shutdown, the reporting of allegations of misconduct and related investigations, and the resignation of our former artistic director in late 2020, Triad Stage was left with an organization that had to be built from the ground up,” Hayes said in the news release .

Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow @dawndkaneNR on Twitter.

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