As humanity resurfaced from the global shutdown, Passage Theatre searched for its identity within the new parameters of society, New Jersey, Trenton, and beyond. We learned that Passage's work is strongest when we bring communities together. As we welcomed our audiences back to live theater, we embarked on our TrentonMAKES season, all stories written with and for Trentonians. In the 21-22 season, Passage Theatre mounted three world premieres in under 100 days. The OK Trenton Project, Janet Wide Awake: The Hedgepeth-Williams Dream, and Group! A New Musical. These brand-new, socially charged plays were based on real Trenton issues and events. We showed that part of what "Trenton Makes" are deeply moving stories that deserve to be told.
The OK Trenton Project
Photo by Jeff Stewart
In August of 2017, a group of Trenton students spent their summer creating a sculpture out of pots and pans entitled “Helping Hands.” Four days after installation, the sculpture was removed due to anonymous complaints that the piece resembled a gang symbol. Based on a true story and composed of verbatim interviews from those directly involved, the long-awaited debut of a play Five years in the making.
“The play is a natural production for this theater; like a previous Passage production, Caged, it attempts to give voices that might otherwise be unheard a microphone with which to tell their stories. It also attempts to understand and find common ground for opposing perspectives, in a culture that is increasingly combative and polarized.” – Donald H. Sanborn III, Town Topics.
Janet Wide Awake: The Hedgepeth-Williams Dream
Photo by Andrew Binger
Written and performed by both theatre professionals and students from Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School of the Arts, this story is a modern response to the court case HEDGEPETH & WILLIAMS vs. THE BOARD OF EDUCATION, which was used as precedent in BROWN vs. BOARD. Sharing real Trenton history about New Jersey’s first desegregated school, Junior High #2.
“The Hedgepeth-Williams students took obvious and passionate charge of Passage’s initiative and crafted it a way that mattered to them… incidentally discovering how one’s school holds an important place in the national civil rights story and why some of the school’s traditions need to be maintained, especially when threatened by proposed changes in Trenton education policy.” –Neal Zoren, Princeton Info
Group! A New Musical
Photo by Jeff Stewart
Six women from vastly different worlds come together to battle the great equalizer: addiction. Can the current mental health care system really support a path towards long term recovery?
“This [play] must be seen. It really gets under the covers of the whole issue and the system that works to address the problem. The characters are each so distinctly human! I cried and laughed. It evokes huge empathy and compassion.” –June Ballinger
In the 2022 Season Passage...
Passage Education: Internship and Apprenticeship
Passage brings our theatre programs to public schools such as HWMSA and TCHS and senior citizen centers such as Stonebridge and Jennye Stubblefield. However, as the needs of our community shift, Passage is taking more direct action in education. We now offer a robust professional internship program with numerous opportunities for early career theatre makers. Our team now includes two Artistic Interns and two Administrative Interns from Rider University and a Production Intern from Mercer County Community College
Passage Theatre is also proud to launch our new Stagehand Training Program in partnership with Isles, Inc. This pilot program allows us to work with students from Isles Youth Initiative. Teens and young adults are being trained as stagehands and theatre technicians to prepare them for the workforce and introduce them to this vibrant industry. Many thanks to our Technical Director, Scott Hoskins, for providing apprenticeship-style tutelage to these young Trentonians. Congratulations to James Downing who has graduated from Stagehand Training and is now a regular overhire employee at Passage.
22-23 Foundations for our Future
Passage Theatre's first production of the 22-23 season was Blues in my Soul: The Legand and Legacy of Lonnie Johnson. This show brought new and old patrons alike to The Mill Hill Playhouse, including audiences from Candle Light Events. A special shout out to Valarie and EC Bradley at Candle Light and of course to Larry Hilton. This production featured guitarist David B. Ross as Lonnie Johnson. Dave was so enamored with the production and with our community that he has decided to move to the area. Thanks Dave, we're happy to have you as our newest Trentonian.
"I truly enjoyed the show Blues In My Soul. The music was perfect and the performances were on point. I feel that Passage Theatre should continue to bring plays/musicals with genres that touch the Trenton community."-Johanna Tolentino
"I really loved the show and you had a great house. It was good that the season started with this show, I'm from this era and used to have a show on WWHY, a weekly hour that played traditional jazz music. Continue to do shows that people will come out to see and enjoy."-Israel Herman
We are happy to bring back our 2-actor version of A Christmas Carol, adapted by James Armstrong, which SOLD OUT last season. Get your tickets today, as there are only FOUR performances!
Passage was thrilled to present an outdoor workshop performance of the new musical Clean Slate in the Mill Hill amphitheater this past August. Stay tuned for more information for this exciting co-production with Rider University.
Without the generous contributions of our community, Passage would not be able to fulfill its mission. We'd like to take this moment to sincerely thank YOU for the many ways you support Passage Theatre Company. We cannot wait to see you at the Mill Hill Playhouse very soon!