At Two Planks Theater Company, it is important for us that theater and art should be an integral part of every community. And it is equally important that theater can not just provide entertainment, but it can also be a vehicle for discussion, social awareness, and change.
During our 2016-17 season, as a response to the growing, nation-wide vilification of non-mainstream populations, including racial, religious, and gender groups, we were pleased to present the production La Cage aux Folles, which tells the lighthearted story of a gay couple nightclub owners as they meet their straight son’s fiancé for the fist time… but which at its core presents the universal message that love is love. We were proud to bring together a panel of gender-rights advocates, including the Academy Award-winning founder of The Trevor Project—the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24—to hold a informational discussion supporting the needs of gay and transgender residents of our state.
In 2015-16, we were happy to be able to present our winter Main Stage production, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, in support of Newtown’s Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation and their mission to spread awareness of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) around the country and the world. While the show was about the antics of children at a regional spelling bee, its message centered on those contestants social and emotional challenges of growing up in a world that doesn’t always support all individuals.
Two Planks has also partnered with and supported different organizations during previous shows. In the summer of 2015, Two Planks presented our Main Stage musical, Avenue Q, a comical, coming of age story about growing up and finding your way in the world. However, over three performances, when the characters sang the song “Give Us Your Money,” we accepted on-the-spot audience donations, as our actors (and puppets!) circulated through the gathered crowd. Hundreds of dollars were collected through the generosity of our patrons, and the money was presented to The Connecticut Make a Wish Foundation, in Trumbull.
During our inaugural season, we presented the hard-hitting, rock musical Next to Normal, which centers on how a suburban family copes with their mother’s struggles with mental illness. In recognition of that year’s Mental Health Awareness month, Two Planks partnered with a dozen mental health service and support organizations from across the state to hold a moderated discussion panel, giving audience members the chance to interact with experts in the field. You can see all of those partner organizations here.
Annually, Two Planks self-funds thousands of dollars worth of scholarships to enable area youth to experience the magic of live theater. We are able to do this not only through our own efforts, but thanks in part to our advertisers and though the generous support of the community. Interested in helping us help kids from your home town? Contact us to see how you can get involved and help out too!