As a bright-eyed, eternally optimistic student of theatre in Tucson, a coveted spot on Arizona Theatre Company's stage was considered the peak of success during four years of actor training at the UA School of Theatre, Film and Television.
One of my most memorable acting experiences happened as an understudy in ATC's God of Carnage
, a role I was egregiously unprepared for, yet one that hurtled me into a new phase of growth and appreciation for my craft at the time. ATC's understudy programs for young actors are crucial first steps into the realm of professional theatre and towards the golden ticket of an Actor's Equity Card. Not to mention Summer on Stage, Student Matinees and Cafe Bohemia, programs which foster youth performance and new works of theatre by up-and-coming playwrights.
Now, facing its 50th year serving southern Arizona's theatre community, ATC might not see the curtain rise for its 2016-17 season. Without the $2 million necessary to keep its doors open by Friday, July 1, ATC will consider canceling the upcoming shows to reorganize, despite sustained efforts by private donors to keep the doors open.
Although ATC's recent seasons left the company in the black by the end of the fiscal year, 2016's recent fundraising efforts to bring the business out of a substantial debt has reached a "critical juncture" according to a press release sent out Monday to donors and subscribers.
In the release, ATC Board of Trustees Chair Cameron C. Artigue said "that if the necessary funds are not secured, the company 'will be forced step back and consider all of our options which include going on a temporary hiatus to restructure the business model to ensure its long-term sustainability or permanently shutting down.'"
"Ironically, despite the past two seasons being our most successful, both in terms of artistic acclaim and ticket sales, we experienced a disappointing year in our ability to attract the necessary level of contributed income to continue that progress," he said. 'We remain hopeful, but have to address the situation realistically.'"
Next year's season was set to include Fiddler on the Roof, Act of God
, and King Charles III
, and although there are plans to re-open next year, the theatre is looking for substantial contributions from donors and funding sources outside of box offices sales.
This year's Summer on Stage will continue in its entirety through July 29, but the season many Arizonans (audience and actors, alike) have been eagerly anticipating may very well not see opening night lights.