Passage’s Artistic Director, Ryanne, Discusses Her New Baby Girl, this Season’s Programming and the Interim Artistic Director

It is 3:45pm on September 2nd. My brand new baby daughter is napping quietly beside me in her hospital bassinet. My husband, wiped out from the past 30 hours of continuous swaddling and diaper changing, is asleep on the plastic-like couch nearby. I am in my hospital bed, a little sore, a little sleep deprived, and full of a lot of love.

2020 has been quite the year. There has been the COVID-19 pandemic, the roar of racial issues in our country, and now, for me, this little girl. Trying to piece my feelings together about this year so far has been complicated to say the least. As a result, choosing and creating the programming for this season was quite the challenge…

One must consider a huge list of things when choosing artistic programming. (Does it fulfill our mission? Can we afford it? Will it appeal to our target audience? Etc…) This season included the added challenge of having at least half of our programming needing to be produced online. Once the usual “boxes” of mission and such are checked off, and I could ensure that we could uphold the quality of the program in an online format, I then had to ask the million dollar question: Why this play (or this program) NOW? Why is it essential that we produce this play/program for our community in the year 2020/21? 

Of all of the things that have become clear to me this year, two stand out as being simple truths of our time: 

  • Many people in our society are not listening to or truly connecting with one another.
  • Our country is in dire need of healing and care.

And so, I started thinking about the word CONNECTION and what it means. Connection to strangers, connection to friends. Online connections, in-person connections. Missed connections and connections that deeply change who we are as people. 

I then began to explore ideas of caring for one another. Caring for our families, friends, neighbors, and ourselves. Physical care and emotional care. Caring for strangers and expecting nothing in return.

My hope is that the shows and programming we created for this season can help people in the Passage community examine and process what is happening in our world today in the same way they have helped me. I hope that others find them useful as they navigate our “new normal.” 

As Gabriela Jean quietly sighs in her sleep, I smile and reflect on that fact that MY new normal is also going to include a beautiful new person who is depending on me to teach her about a world of things including connecting with her community and caring for others in this world. I am incredibly grateful for her and for the privilege I have been given to raise her. I reflect upon my time at Passage and how lucky I am that our Board and my fellow staff members support my choice to spend time with my family right now. I reflect on how excited I am to have my dear friend, Julia Bumke, cover for me as our Interim Artistic Director from now through the month of December, so that Passage may continue its mission and provide programming to our community through this unique time in history. I think of all this….

And I smile. Because there is indeed a lot we need to fix in this world right now. But if this little girl has taught me anything in the past 30 hours, it’s that it’s okay to not know all of the answers yet, as long as you are honestly and actively willing to search for them. I hope the programming over the next few months helps our audiences do just that. 

Wishing you all an amazing Fall! If you get the chance, reach out to Julia and welcome her to the Passage family. She’s a wonderful person to have coffee with – even over Zoom! Looking forward to reconnecting with you all in January!

With warmth and gratitude always,

Ryanne