Following is an open letter from playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings to the board, cast and crew of Providence Players’ current production of her play, Playing Juliet and Casting Othello.
Thank you. I was blown away by your production of my play.
One can tell when a theatre is run by serious people with professional standards. Everyone involved with PPF has day jobs, including jobs in the performing and visual arts. Most members have families and community responsibilities. To do the labor-intensive work of theatre, in addition to coping with the ordinary day-to-day challenges of living, requires heart, stamina, passion and commitment. It’s obvious that PPF members have all the above. From the efficient way my ticket change was handled, to the moment I was greeted warmly in the lobby with high quality production photos on display, I knew I was in capable hands. Awaiting curtain rise, I overheard the long-time patrons seated around me talking about how much they love to attend PPF shows and how many of them are involved in the company.
Playing Juliet/Casting Othello is a difficult play. Although written in the mid-90’s, the issues are even more sensitive now. I was moved by the fact that PPF was courageous enough to step up and produce it. The direction was meticulous, nuanced, and professional, as were the production values and running of cues. The actors were superb not only as contemporary characters but as Shakespeare’s characters. It’s astonishing that they are new to your company and, in some cases, relatively new to acting in straight plays. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that the entire company beautifully realized the intent of the play — that the Shakespeare stories illuminate and reflect the contemporary story — and that, no matter how sensitive the issues, it is theatre’s mission to bring them into the public arena.
…My attendance at last night’s PPF afterparty was evidence of my genuine admiration for the company and the PPF board. The gathering had a wonderfully good vibe, built on mutual respect, collaboration, down-to-earth hard work, and JOY!
Thank you so very much for selecting my play and producing it so beautifully. May you and your audiences enjoy the run. You’ve certainly given me a tremendous boost of optimism and gratitude during a difficult time in our country.
Caleen Sinnette Jennings
Playwright, Playing Juliet/Casting Othello