To the Phamaly family and community,
Just over four years ago, I was offered the opportunity to become an interim Artistic Director with Phamaly. At the time, I had just finished a season as an actor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and was eager to continue with my professional acting career. But, Phamaly’s artistic leadership was changing, and the opportunity to carry the torch for a year in residence as AD was too appealing to pass up. After all, Phamaly was my artistic home…it was where I returned to the stage after becoming paralyzed, and where I came back to life as talented peers taught me to be proud of the new expression of my artistry and humanity.
Shortly after I started, I discovered that the company was in trouble. Within months, we were launching our Sunny Tomorrow Campaign to raise $100,000 and save the company from closing its doors. I wrestled with whether to pull the “this isn’t what I signed up for” card. But deep down, I knew I could never live with myself if I didn’t do everything possible to help this unparalleled company survive, and to sustain the bold vision of Phamaly’s extraordinary founders. I decided to stay…either until Phamaly went down in glorious flames, or until it was back in a healthy and sustainable place. With the efforts of a committed staff and board, and with the help of YOU – our community – we got Phamaly back on track.
I am now gratified to say that Phamaly is thriving. The last four years have been filled with ups and downs, changes and challenges, but have also been some of Phamaly’s most successful ever. The last three summer musicals have been in the top four of Phamaly’s highest selling shows; we have toured locally and internationally; staged shows in site-specific community spaces; hosted our first play festival featuring disabled playwrights; expanded partnerships, educational programming, and outreach; enhanced our role as a national leader in disability-affirmative theatre; and (so far) survived COVID! Our extraordinary Managing Director Sasha Hutchings has worked wonders in leading an overhaul of Phamaly’s operations, and staff members Darion, Annie, and Erin have infused new life and intelligence into all aspects of our programming. Our board is mighty and motivated to take Phamaly to new heights. And our company of artists – throughout it all – have only continued to expand their brilliance as a force for artistic talent and advocacy.
I have therefore decided it is time for me to continue onward and re-focus my energies as a performer and theatre artist, and for Phamaly to find a new artistic leader to continue Phamaly’s successes into the coming years. Although I will be leaving the AD role, my connection to Phamaly is as strong as blood, and Phamaly will always be my artistic home. For the immediate future, I will continue to serve in an advisory capacity for the company, and hope to return on occasion to work with Phamaly as an artist.
I’m not leaving yet. Over the coming months, I will support Phamaly’s national search and onboarding of a new Artistic Director, and – vaccine willing – hope to direct Phamaly’s summer production before I depart.
There is never an ideal time for a transition like this, and the current moment – with its many unprecedented challenges – is no different. But challenge also brings opportunity. As Phamaly comes back into the theatre after COVID (which I know it will!), it is as good a time as ever to engage with a new artistic vision. I have no doubt that this moment is the continuation of Phamaly’s greatness, and cannot wait to see how Phamaly will rise to new heights.
Thank you for your continued love and support along this wild journey…I could not have done it without you. I look forward to the coming months of artistic reinvigoration and reconnection.
With love and gratitude,