Wednesday, July 22, 2009

the jensens quit: "bidding farewell"

they're not actors or singers. or designers or directors. but they are donors. and not only financially. for 12 years, mother and daughter team of carol and amy jensen have supported the skylight with their pocketbooks, and their spatulas.

these two women embody "the skylight family" that this current board seems so willing to stomp on and squash. and they're done:
Dear Mr Dillner, Skylight Board and Skylight Board of Advocates,

Although the recent resignations of directors, actors, other artists and, now, the Cabots undoubtedly have a much more significant impact on the organization, we tender our resignation from the Skylight as well. Who are "we"? We are Carol and Amy Jensen who, for the past 12 years, set our schedules around the Skylight's "Tech Weekend" bringing food to the cast of each of the past 60 productions (save one tragic weekend we missed and for which we forever take responsibility for Branch Woodman's broken leg due to our failure to provide sustenance).

We started because of Tony Clements and his attempt to subsist on a Kit Kat diet. We continued because of the small, but wonderful, glimpse of the rehearsals we received as our reward. We worried through the rehearsals when the cast and the show wasn't coming together so easily. We rejoiced in the shows where the cast was so in sync in rehearsal that we knew what magic we would see opening night. Sometimes we knew the cast members well, sometimes we didn't. This past May, Bill arranged for the cast of Pirates to sing Happy Birthday to Carol - using the brownies that she had brought as the "cake" for the candles.

In addition to feeding the cast five times a year, we have, at various times, been Skylight employees, volunteers, donors, subscribers and, of course, always avid supporters. We've donated auction items to Skylight night and purchased our fair share as well. We have been so proud to be a part of the Skylight family.

Since mid June, our plans for the new season were uncertain and we agonized over what to do. Could we still continue our Tech Week tradition to support the cast without condoning the recent actions of the Board and management? The answer to that question became painfully clear late last week and with the inevitable resignation of so many artists.

Our role at the Skylight is small compared to the many talented and beloved artists both on stage and behind the scenes. But, it has been special to us and to the many casts that have shared our small repast on what is usually the longest day of rehearsal. Without them, our role, like so many others, has essentially been eliminated. And so, we must heartbreakingly resign, biding farewell to our treasured Skylight tradition.

One final note. In a meeting just last week with Mr. Dillner and Ms. Hefty, Amy tried to describe the sense of fear and loss of the Skylight spirit that was leading to the overwhelming outcry by so many. She tried to explain what it is that makes the Skylight so special. Mr. Dillner nodded reassuringly and said that it is the building that draws everyone together and that the "process" is still the same. Mr Dillner, it is neither the building nor the process that makes the Skylight special. It is the people. It was a wonderful family that came together in ways both great and small - onstage, offstage and in the audience - to passionately and collaboratively create, support and sustain the magic. Above all other responsibilities you may have, Mr. Dillner, it was your job to nurture that.

With the greatest sense of loss,

Carol J. Jensen
Amy S. Jensen


  1. Dearest Amy and Carol,

    Individually and collectively, you have embodied the "Skylight spirit" as much as any actor, musician, director, or designer. The heart of our beloved Skylight has LEFT THE BUILDING. Enjoy the 4 walls Mr. Dillner. A house is not a home.

  2. This breaks my heart like no other.

  3. Wow - to lose these two - Amy you were such a great mentor and colleague for me as well - your vision always combined the business side with the artistic side - your resignation speaks volumes - I hope someone hears it!

  4. I posted this above as well, but I request that that Amy and Carol be added to the list of artists. What they did showed passion for the arts as much as singing, designing or directing does.

  5. Amy and Carol,

    Thank you for everything over the years. I loved learning of the Kit Kat Clause. How this all two are beautiful and wonderful!

  6. I am amazed by Mr. Dillner's assertions to the Jensens that the "process" and the building are the essence of the Skylight. Audiences don't care about "process" (whatever that may mean); they want to be entertained. And no one who attended Skylight shows at the old Jefferson St. theater ever went there because they were impressed by the building. Best wishes to all the Skylight family.

  7. Dearest Amy and Carol,

    How many years have I delighted in your presence at the "longest day ever" rehearsals. I always knew you were there rooting for us, LOVED the food, but mostly knew that it wasn't a show until you two saw it, adding your magic to it all. This breaks my heart in two. I will miss everyone so much!!
    Alicia Berneche

  8. James beat me to it: "But a chair is not a house/and a house is not a home"
    I, like many people, am watching the Skylight implode from afar and this particular resignation hits close to home for two reasons. First, my years in Company Management have helped me realize what priceless assets women like Carol and Amy are. I've never met them, but I've met their sisters across the nation at the Goodspeed Opera House, at Cleveland Playhouse...the list goes on and on. Without them, often the human face of an organization never comes into focus for performers. And yet, they do it for free, for love. Those are "employees" you never want to lose and to lose them over such a poorly handled mess like this, well, it's nearly criminal.
    Secondly, these women remind me of my mother who, when I called her the other day, proceeded to brief me on the latest Skylight gossip. I didn't need a briefing: I get my info here. But when a story like this leaks out to my mom who then says to me, "Well, with all the bad news going down at the Skylight, I'm not sure I want to go see anything there this year. I mean, who wants to back a losing horse?" it underlines for me the fact that the mess of the Skylight is reaching out beyond the four electronic walls of the blogosphere, touching people who never would've cared about it before. And it's not a good thing.
    I don't know and have never met the Jensens, but I imagine that they and my mom are of a similar background, age, etc. I see what's happening to the Jensens and think "That could've been my Mom". Likewise, I hear my mother's comments and think "How many other people like the Jensens and my mother are out there who will withdraw their support from the Skylight because they perceive it as treating people unfairly, grossly mishandling this situation, or just as a horror show they don't want to support?" And I have to guess: plenty.


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