An open letter from the Chair

On the occasion of the beginning of The Baltimore Playwrights Festival’s 40th Season, I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to the BPF family and friends and touch base. I hope everyone is weathering the current events with as much grace as possible under unprecedented pressure.

Hopefully, you noticed that the BPF leadership posted our response to the turmoil surrounding racial issues facing our country today. Here’s our statement in full, in case you missed it:

The Baltimore Playwrights Festival leadership wants to assure all of our writers, audiences, and supporters that we stand in solidarity with the Black community during this time of protest and introspection. Like many other arts organizations, we can and will do more to ensure that these voices are heard.

The pandemic situation has sidelined our much-anticipated production of Do It Now!, the musical based on the life of William Donald Schaeffer, former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore, with music and lyrics by Jonathan Jensen and book and additional lyrics by Rich Espey. It was scheduled to be presented in conjunction with Fells Point Corner Theatre. Alas, we have had to pivot away from that collaboration for the time being, but we sincerely hope that we will be able to pick up where we left off at some time in the future. We hope to be able to present this outstanding piece of theatre sometime in 2021.

We are still working out details of how to proceed with our usual slate of readings this fall/winter season, but so much depends on our ability to do justice to the outstanding group of writers whose work was submitted this year. We are looking at socially-conscious ways to present the readings, either virtually or via limited seating, social-distancing-observant live performances. The BPF is committed to doing everything we can to adhere to the safest regulations regarding Covid-19.

As I begin my third year as Board Chair, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow board members, reader/evaluators, our superb family of actors, directors, theatre-makers, the area theatre leadership, and most importantly, our illustrious writers, who, for the past 39 years have supported this organization that was born of a desire to create a space where local playwrights might have their voices heard. Board Treasurer Kathleen Barber has been with the organization since its inception and continues to be a stalwart supporter. Board Vice-Chair Miriam Bazensky has spent more than thirty years helping to guide and shape policy with a sure and steady vision. Quae Simpson, Tom Piccin, and George Andre Tittle round out our current slate of leadership and I humbly thank each and every one of them for helping me to realize our joint mission – to shine a light on the talented writers who call the Baltimore area home and chose to share their artistic endeavors with us all.

For 39 years, we have presented to the public productions of 300 new plays, given over 500 public readings, and evaluated more than 3,000 play submissions. I’d like to think we are just getting started, and I cannot wait to see what this formidable institution will contribute to the future.

So thank you, dear supporters. In these difficult days, we all have a charge to help each other, support the efforts of the BPF and the greater Baltimore theatre community, and keep our eyes on the prize – presenting the best plays we can while offering a safe space to support our writer’s visions.

Stay Safe and Take Care!
Timoth David Copney, Chair
Baltimore Playwrights Festival