LEADING WITH OUR HEARTS
BY BENJAMIN HANNA, DIRECTOR
Originally inspired by a holiday card, It’s a Wonderful Life is the most inspirational film of all time, according to the American Film Institute. Watching the film has become a tradition for many families as the weather grows cold and we begin our winter hibernation. But this year things are more than a little different. Many have been in isolation from family for months, and the looming winter feels chillier and darker than the past.
I am writing from our cozy rehearsal room. The four of us—actor, director, production coordinator, and production assistant—will be together, masked-up, socially distanced, and isolated for several weeks preparing to film. Among many safety measures, there are elaborate cleaning protocols and multiple, repeating COVID tests. We four alone are allowed in what is called “Zone A” inside the Theatre. To connect with others, we schedule Zoom meetings with colleagues who are working on the other side of a wall—or working from home on the other side of town. A year ago there were more than 25 people in this room rehearsing for A Christmas Carol, including ten ubiquitous little Cratchits. So much has changed—yet so much is still the same. You can feel the energy and hear the laughter of companies past, present, and future in this room. It is wonderful, and it’s inspiring to our invention.
This Wonderful Life shares the virtuosic nature of our beloved Carol—the actor plays numerous roles and packs an epic journey into one delightful evening. Rob Johansen is speaking directly to us. He invites us to remember our responsibility to self and community. For those who have had the pleasure of hearing Rob spin a tale—onstage or off!—you know this story will be filled with madcap comedy mixed with sincerity and grace.
The great Steven Spielberg sums up this film beautifully: “Frank Capra led with his heart. His films made it shameful not to cry in the movies. He celebrated the noblest impulse of women and men, showed all of us our dark side, and then pointed a flashlight at the way out.” I hope you receive this play as our holiday card to you all: a sweet treat for your table, a warm glass of cider, some laughter around the fire, and a reminder of how much we need each other and the power of leading with our hearts.
The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
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