"The economy is falling, the economy is falling...."
I've heard the cry. I've seen the cutbacks, seen the foreclosures, the disappearing businesses, the lay-offs, the downsizing. I've been present literally or virtually while clients plead and reason and rant and request that services not be cut because of x or y or z. And still I was in shock when two friends were suddenly laid off.
Yesterday I learned that Mead Hunter was laid off from Portland Center Stage. He was the Literary Director and resident dramaturg, as was another person in the literary department, which pretty much eliminates that department.
This morning I learned that another friend, Jenn Rehnke, an advocate for accessibility and an all around good human being was also let go from Portland Center Stage.
I know my shock and disappointment, as well as musings about how their absences will affect the future of PCS, are nothing compared to what the two of them and the other two or three let go are experiencing. But I am surprised and I, well, I'm, um, surprised. Mead had spearheaded the popular JAW festival, was a huge advocate of new play development, and was a great supporter and promoter of PCS. Jenn was good at her job, seemed to have excellent rapport with the box office staff, friendly, and a big advocate of disabled patrons rights and was great to work with in that capacity, an artist and supporter of the arts.
I'm having a hard time imagining PCS without their talents and personalities. I feel for them as they are forced into new beginnings - of which I'm sure they are very capable and will triumph in whatever comes their way next. But the suddenness and their loss are significant. I hope that the larger Portland theatrical and creative communities outside of PCS will remain their home and that there is something waiting for their skill sets and person-hoods to step into.