Just a week before it was to revive its smash staging of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the Nashville professional theater troupe People's Branch Theatre has closed its doors, ending an impressive 10-year run of progressive contemporary drama and original productions.
In a joint letter issued this afternoon, PBT artistic director Ross Brooks and board president Joseph Lutche cited a combination of "fortunate and unfortunate circumstances." These include diminished support from sponsors and patrons, the economic aftereffects of last month's flood, and unnamed "scheduling and administrative issues" that thwarted the remounting of Hedwig, the scheduled last show of PBT's 10th season.
On a less gloomy note, the letter also cited artistic director Brooks' impending parenthood, along with that of several members of the theater company's board.
The decision comes of the heels of a typically eclectic season that saw PBT tackle Bertolt Brecht's drama of ideas Galileo as well as the 10x10x2 fest of 10-minute plays by local authors and Straight Outta Hannibal!, an original rock musical by Brooks, Brooks Bryant and NaTasha O'Brien about Mark Twain.
In 2005, the Scene named People's Branch Nashville's best theater group. "This theater company has broken significant new ground where Nashville theater is concerned," Scene theater critic Martin Brady wrote.
After the jump: the text of the announcement.
After a decade of producing progressive, professional theatre in Nashville, People’s Branch Theatre regrets to announce that we must close our doors.
This decision was not made lightly. However, a mixture of fortunate and unfortunate circumstances makes this necessary. The economic climate of the past few years has forced many of our sponsors and patrons to diminish the amount of financial support they have contributed in the past. Scheduling and administrative issues have also hampered our ability to stage the final announced show of our tenth anniversary season, the remount of 2007’s wildly successful Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The recent flooding in middle Tennessee has also affected many of our sponsors, members, artists and technicians as well as those who serve on the Board of Trustees. And, while it limits the amount of time and energy that could otherwise be focused upon PBT, we proudly celebrate the new and impending parenthood of our Artistic Director and several members of our Board.
For ten years, PBT has strived to bring variety to the Nashville stage. Original productions by Nashville playwrights, the best of Off-Broadway, and imaginative reinterpretations of classics are among the works that PBT has produced over the last decade. This is no small achievement, and it is one in which the staff and board of PBT take great pride.
We also take pride in the fact that, from the beginning, PBT has been one of Nashville’s professional theatres, working zealously to provide an outlet for actors, directors, and other theatrical artists who not only have a passion for the dramatic arts, but who also have chosen to earn their livings doing so. We hope that the community of professional actors and theatre artists who have worked with PBT will continue to grace Nashville’s stages, and we will be in the audience supporting them.
But you, our members and patrons, the supporters of Nashville’s Arts community, are our most important source of pride. For ten years, you have cheered us on, naming PBT Best Local Theatre Group on multiple occasions and inspiring the creation of thoughtful, progressive theatre in Nashville. We can’t thank you enough for your trust and support.
We would also like to thank the wonderful organizations and corporations who have sponsored and supported PBT. Thanks to the Tennessee Arts Commission, The Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, Bridgestone Americas, Dr. Ming Wang, The Nashville Scene, The Tennessean,The Nashville City Paper, Out&About Nashville, Belmont University, Vanderbilt University, CoolPeopleCare, Emma, Groovy Soup, Inc., The Nashville Children’s Theatre, Tennessee Rep, The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and many, many more.
People’s Branch may not be producing any more shows, but we look forward to ongoing participation in the Nashville theatre community whether onstage, backstage, or in the dark, laughing, crying and thinking with the rest of the audience.
Thanks so much for ten great years. We couldn’t have done it without you.