Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Letter from our Executive Director

To our friends,

I planned today to write a letter to our supporters, our participants, our alumni – our community.  I had planned to tell them why in these challenging financial times, Oddfellows was an important and fragile resource for our community.  To write this now, after the tragedy of Sandy Hook, seems out of place, because our challenges as a society are clearly far greater than financial.

This weekend, I spent a lot of time working at Oddfellows Playhouse, not at home hugging my daughters as I would have liked to.  In the absence of my family, I thought about what the role of an arts organization, specifically what the role of our theater, Oddfellows Playhouse, has in our community in the wake of this terrible tragedy. What is Oddfellows’ proper role? What can the Oddfellows family do to help one person or many in lending an appropriate voice in the healing process?  As a community arts organization that focuses on the youth, do we need to decide whether we shall we speak on this at all? What are the limits of restraint? Shall we just continue on with our lives and program as is?

On Saturday morning, for several hours, families filled the rehearsal halls and theater at the Playhouse to celebrate the end of their fall classes.  The building was filled with joy, laughter and excitement as the students shared their work with their families, friends, and loved ones.  Elementary school students presented mini-productions of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Polar Express” to packed houses of the people who love them the most.  And maybe because of the events of the previous day, the messages of hope, love, faith and family seemed to be a little clearer.  Not a word was overheard from any parent or child about the events of the day before.

With every production and class, Oddfellows tries to bring us together, as audience and performer, as parent and child, as a community.  It may provide us with ideas and questions to consider, to share with others, it may give us hope and it may fill whatever void we feel.  Theater cannot undo tragedy, but it can inspire us to celebrate what is most precious, as I believe it did this weekend.

Thank you for being a part of the Oddfellows community.  I hope you all enjoy a great holiday season with your loved ones and look forward to working together to make 2013 the best it can be!

Matt Pugliese
Executive Director

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