Charter Theater, the Arlington-based company which had made a reputation as a home for original theater by Washington-area playwrights, has indefinitely suspended production, canceling the remainder of its season.
In a letter to patrons and supporters, Artistic Director Keith Bridges blamed the decision on financial reverses suffered during the current recession. “Many arts organizations have been strained in this financially difficult time. Charter is no exception.” Bridges asserted that “it has become necessary for us to make some changes as we look forward to putting Charter on more solid ground.”
Charter has cancelled both its mainstage productions and its Plays for Young Audiences. “It is an unavoidable financial necessity,” Bridges said.
Bridges says that Charter will not shut down entirely. “We are going to focus primarily on the reading series, playwriting workshops and support, and more general audience development for new works.” When Charter returns to mainstage productions, Bridges says, it will produce no more than one play a year.
Charter’s decision will mean cancellation for two new plays – Two for Ten by Malcolm Pelles and Good Counsel by Renee Calarco.
Charter has had an extraordinarily successful ten-year run in producing new plays, most notably Chris Stezin’s This Perfect World, a tour-de-force for actor Jason Lott; Renee Calarco’s award-winning Short Order Stories, and of course, the fabulous Monkeyboy, a Bridges-Stezin-Richard Washer collaboration in which Jim Helein played an enormous cockatoo who, Moby Dick-like, haunted the days and nights of his bedeviled owner (Rachel Bridges).