It really is a sorry state of affairs that this state is in, regarding live theater and the companies that were once proud, falling away …

The White Barn Theatre, Lucille Lortel’s theater, a Westport and Norwalk mainstay for decades, is looking more and more like it will be torn down for housing. If that happens, you’ll never get that theater back. I don’t know how to get it across to the people of this state … people, who supposedly have a large percentage of the wealth of the nation … people who supposedly have a large penchant for donating to the arts … people who supposedly have a goodly percentage of artists, to include writers, actors, directors, musicians, producers living amongst them (especially Fairfield County!).

How could they allow such a treasure to simply disappear and not be willing to fight to keep this around? We citizens of this state who do work in the entertainment industry realize that this administration is not helping by not granting tax breaks we once had to bring entertainment jobs here, hopefully that will change soon … or a new administration will see the error of not having these grants, as New York and Massachusetts are grabbing our entertainment jobs away. But I need to steer my emotions back to this glorious old stage. We have a couple of theatrical companies that I know who would love to call the White Barn home, but where are the big-wig company CEOs looking to invest in the arts? Where are the big-name actors, directors, writers who could raise this money in one night if they absolutely wanted to? They are sadly quiet … and to those of us who work behind the spotlights, behind the scenes, struggling to get good performance material and shows out, it hurts.

Seriously! You could have a 15- to 16-acre parcel of property with a really nice sized theater, almost immediately get it to be a union house, and get new, original, edgy stuff done, but apparently no one wants to step up … apparently no one has the vision.

All this great praise about our kids in the school productions is fine and cute to build the kids up … what does this lack of funding for saving the White Barn, or allowing this state’s administration to not have tax credits for the entertainment industry, causing us to lose jobs and projects to neighboring states, say to those kids who want to try to make a career in theater, stage, writing, directing? Good luck. Just don’t plan on working here in Connecticut? That’s sure what it reads to me like it is doing.

Westport almost lost the Westport Playhouse years back when they needed funding. Tankfully there were visionary folks that saw to save it.

Are there any more visionaries out there? Or is live theater and creativity dead in this state?

Westport already lost the Theatre Artists Workshop of Westport, when the town took back the Morningside school. They moved to Norwalk and shortened their name to Theatre Artists Workshop (or TAW); they’re still almost in Westport if you follow Duck Pond Road, it turns into Old Saugatuck, and TAW rents half of the Masonic Lodge on the corner, but still theater goers and supporters, but where is TAW’s support? They are still around, but for how long if the support disappears like it did for the White Barn?

Westport used to be a great supporter of the arts. I know you can say, well Westport still has the playhouse and the one weekend a month in the summer Arts Festival. Please! This is a long way from where Westport, Norwalk’s Silvermine community and Fairfield County have come from … it used to be a great artists’ escape from the city. Can we somehow find support to save the White Barn, and maybe while you’re at it, throw some support over to TAW too?

Losing the White Barn to the wrecking ball will be a blight on the theater community, the theater world and the communities of Westport and Norwalk if it is allowed to happen.

P.J. Letersky

SAG-AFTRA / Actor’s Equity Association