In a year marked by the devastation of COVID-19, a national reckoning on racial justice, global environmental and economic catastrophe, and a cultural divide that threatens to tear apart the fabric of society, the activity of a little new-works theatre company in a small Connecticut town feels insignificant. After all, what can we do in the face of such intractable crises?
The conventional response is that we must do what we always do: Use the power of storytelling to forge human connection and provide a space for emotional catharsis, intellectual inquiry, and spiritual reflection — to “hold, as ‘there, the mirror up to nature.” Hamlet’s advice to the players has been an article of faith in the theatre, but today it rings hollow. The world is hurting, and whatever good we’ve done hasn’t been enough. It’s far past time we held the mirror up to ourselves.
Lockdown has given us a rare opportunity to step off the frenetic treadmill of production, do some real self-interrogation, and throw ourselves into some work that might have felt too hard or too scary before. In this, Baldwin is more helpful than the Bard: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
In a perverse way, an annus horriblis can be quite clarifying, but maybe that gives 2020 too much credit. The real credit belongs to our Artistic Associates, Gina Pulice, Maria McConville, and Richard Harrison, whose thoughtfulness and intent set the stage for Thrown Stone to emerge from this year better and stronger. Credit also goes to our board, who have locked arms in support of the mission every step of the way. Leaders of service organizations, particularly Nan Barnett of the National New Play Network, and Lisa Scails of the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, have been shining beacons on rough seas. Finally, our underwriters, grantors, and supporters who doubled down on Thrown Stone through postponements, cancellations, and long stretches of uncertainty, are the reason we will not only survive, but thrive in 2021.
One last thank you goes out to Bob Iger. We don’t know Mr. Iger personally, but we did watch his MasterClass. His anecdote about how he developed, shared, and reinforced his strategic priorities for The Walt Disney Company made such a big impression that we tried it for ourselves. Our three strategic priorities outline how we intend to fulfill Thrown Stone’s mission in this time of great change.
Our Strategic Priorities
- Take Smart Creative Risks
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted Thrown Stone to experiment with programming and formats that can work during a pandemic. The health and safety of our audience and our company members is always our first priority, and we are committed to discovering creative ways to connect with audiences while complying with all public safety measures. We will also invest in more commissions of new plays and hold virtual workshops of new plays that show promise.
- Share Ownership of the Mission
Thrown Stone will recommit to our service area, defined as Fairfield, Westchester, and Putnam Counties. We will build an ensemble of local artists, offer training and education for our particular area of practice, and create more channels for audience input and participation. We will continue to lead and participate in essential community conversations, confabs (such as the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut’s Walk in Their Shoes), and panels, commissions, and collaborations with our peer nonprofits. We will found and recruit an Artistic Advisory Board of nationally recognized artists to advise the Artistic Directors and make recommendations on new work and opportunities to serve.
- Achieve Diverse Representation
We believe that representation is essential to diversity, equity, and inclusion and we will pursue diverse representation in our board, staff, and offering through the cultivation of authentic relationships based on trust and transparency.
As we developed and shared these ideas over the past year, they grew clearer and more action-oriented. They’ve also become an excellent tool of alignment when shared with other artists and stakeholders. We will continue to refine and build on these priorities over the next year as we continue to evolve new ways of fulfilling our mission.
We welcome your questions, comments,or suggestions on these strategic priorities. Likewise, if you are an artist living in our service area, we want you to know Thrown Stone’s mission is yours to share.
The Coronavirus pandemic forced Thrown Stone to initially postpone, and ultimately cancel our 2020 season.
Thrown Stone actively engaged in the national conversation about race and social justice this year, participating in the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut’s Walk in Their Shoes framework, conference sessions sponsored by the National New Play Network, and a collaboration with the Ridgefield Arts Council and Compassionate Ridgefield.
Ammi: Reframing America
In July, we announced the Daniel E. Offutt III Charitable Trust awarded Thrown Stone a grant to commission a new play about Ammi Phillips (1788-1865). Ammi Phillips worked as a traveling portrait painter throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York in the early 1800s. We first learned about him on Searching For The Lost Limner, an episode of Davis Dunavin’s Off The Path podcast, which explored the fascinating story of how his legacy as one of the most prolific folk painters of his time was uncovered.
Just as fascinating was the world Ammi lived in, bookended by the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. His life coincided with the gradual abolition of slavery in Connecticut between 1784 and 1848 — a time of massive change in America. His story invites us to reflect on the great changes facing us today, in the same region, two centuries later.
We chose award-winning playwright and previous Thrown Stone collaborator, Jacqueline Goldfinger (The Arsonists, 2018), for the project. Jacqui’s plays are complex tapestries of the American experience. Her characters are everyday, often overlooked Americans, whose struggles we connect with, while acknowledging their problematic legacies.
The commission was recently profiled by the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut in their The Arts Are Greater Than campaign:
Work on the new play will begin in January 2021. Workshops and public readings will be held in October of that year in collaboration with noted Ammi Phillips historian and collector Barbara Holdridge, the Ridgefield Library, Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center, Ridgefield Historical Society, Kent Historical Society, and other local organizations. The American Folk Art Museum, whose collection includes several works by Phillips, will be working with Thrown Stone in an advisory capacity for the play. We look forward to inviting you to take part in the development of this new play.
This fall, as it became clear that widespread COVID-19 vaccinations would not be complete until the late summer months of 2021, we had to face the possibility that a season of indoor theatre would not be safe or practicable. It was crucial to find another way to connect with our audience. Just as important was our renewed commitment to achieve diverse representation in our board, staff, and offering. With these imperatives in mind, we enlisted the support of our local partners and devised a plan to meet the palpable need we feel as citizens and neighbors to come together to write our next chapter.
Thrown Stone’s 2021 season will consist of three world premieres to be performed at three outdoor locations in Ridgefield, August 26 – September 12, 2021. The plays will be commissioned as short, site-specific works to be performed in sequence at Keeler Tavern Museum, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, and West Lane Inn as a single “roving production” (where the audience follows the action from location to location). Three playwrights have been selected to explore the theme of The Suburbs: Tony Meneses, Phanésia Pharel, and Catherine Yu. Kholoud Sawaf has been selected to direct.
Thrown Stone’s 2021 programming will engage our region with a bold new theatrical experience that centers BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) work and stories, while doing so in a format that is 100% compliant with public health guidelines.
About the Director
About the Playwrights
Meet Associate Producer Kimberly Wilson
As we continue to evolve and grow, we are committed to expanding the way we think about accessibility across all our activities. In 2021, with support from the Offutt Charitable Trust, all regular performance tickets will be subsidized to $39; and preview tickets will subsidized to $20. To help make the production accessible for people of all abilities, a $20 closed-captioned digital version will also be offered.
To engage our region with new and reimagined theatre in intimate settings, creating a body of work that moves, connects, and challenges all who join the conversation.
Gina Pulice, Artistic Associate/
Company Development Manager
Thrown Stone is a 501(c)(3) organization.
D-U-N-S Number: 080603526.
2017-2020 IRS Form 990, Bylaws, Conflict Of Interest Policy, and Sexual Harassment Policy available upon request.
Although our 2020 season was put on hold due to COVID, our generous donors, grantors, and sponsors allowed us to apply their support to the 2021 season. In addition, we expect to receive generous in-kind donations from individuals and businesses for media, equipment, services, artist housing/travel, and fundraising events. Ticket revenue will be much lower in 2021 due to a grant that will subsidize ticket prices.
Of our 2021 expenses, 93% represent the direct costs of production — artist and other salaries, commissions and licensing, production, space rental and marketing costs. The other 7% is development and general operating costs.
We anticipate a substantial increase in our 2021 expenses compared to the 2019 season due to an increase in the number of artists and staff, production complexity, and the investment in commissions over licensing published plays, so we are counting on your support again to help bring these important new works to life.
|B||Donations and Grants||$171,700|
|C||Ticket Sales, Concessions, Other||$5,300|
|A||Production, Space Rental, Marketing||$54,800|
|B||Artist and Other Salaries||$84,000|
|C||Commissions & Licensing||$50,700|
93% of our expenses go directly into our programs
Chekhov International Theatre Festival staged reading of Milk by Ross Dunsmore
The U.S. Premiere of Milk by Ross Dunsmore at Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
Chekhov International Theatre Festival staged reading of The Butcher by Gwydion Suilebhan
Staged reading of Willing by Claire Glubiak at the Ridgefield Library
Productions cancelled due to COVID-19.
New short commissions by Tony Meneses, Phanésia Pharel, and Catherine Yu, directed by Kholoud Sawaf
Full-length commission of Ammi: Reframing America by Jacqueline Goldfinger.
The Burry Fredrik Foundation
Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts
The Ancient Mariner
Barts Tree Service
Fairfield County Bank
The Wadsworth R. Lewis Fund
Network for Good
Ridgefield Thrift Shop
The Leir Foundation
The Daniel E. Offutt III
2020 Individual Donors
Jon & Kim Jodka
Jeanine & Andrew Levine
Dean & Theresa Miller
Daniela Sikora & Keitha Kinne
Robert & Vicki Trainer
Amanda Curtin & Jonathan Winn
Sally & Barclay Griffiths
Jason & Alana Peck
Chuck & Barbara Jennes
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
The American Folk Art Museum
of Fairfield County
of Western Connecticut
Harvard Business School
Keeler Tavern Museum
& History Center
Kent Historical Society
Chekhov Theatre Festival
National New Play Network
Ridgefield Arts Council
Ridgefield Historical Society
Ridgefield Parks and Recreation
West Lane Inn
Women’s Center of Danbury
Woodcock Nature Center
Chuck & Barbara Jennes
WSHU Public Radio
“Working with Thrown Stone was a fantastic experience for me. They reached out, took a risk, and I’m deeply grateful for the connection they made with a fellow artist far away.” — Ross Dunsmore, Milk, 2017
“I wish that all theaters were as exuberant and innovative as Thrown Stone. They understand that both today’s audiences and the future of the American theatre rest on producing a wide-range of new work that exemplifies the breadth, depth, and spirit of the American experience.” — Jacqueline Goldfinger, The Arsonists, 2018
“I am so grateful for my experience with Thrown Stone. The whole performance was a dream. I was thrilled with the level of talent they were able to bring in, from the set design to the actors. They really tried to find ways to make the production benefit the writer, and they saw the script to its fullest vision.” — Karina Cochran, Where All Good Rabbits Go, 2018
“Thrown Stone is an incredibly dedicated group of artists who champion complex, vital new work. I was so honored to have a play in their season, and although I live far from Connecticut, I felt very included in the process and production. Every writer should send them plays!” — Anna Moench, Birds of North America, 2019
“Jason and Jonathan clearly create an environment that demands integrity, and it shows: Thrown Stone has quickly established itself as a true playwright’s theater, where today’s playwrights WANT to be programmed. I am very grateful to Thrown Stone for having me, and I’ll be very eager to work with them again!” — Molly Smith Metzler, Cry It Out, 2019