Act 2: Lucinda Kidder’s retirement

  • Lucinda Kidder stands before the set on the fourth floor of the Hawks and Reed building for what will be her last play with Silverthorne Theater Co. before she retires. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Lucinda Kidder, co-founder of Silverthorne Theater Co., will retire after its production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Lucinda Kidder, co-founder of Silverthorne Theater Co., talks about what’s next for her. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Lucinda Kidder, co-founder of Silverthorne Theater Co., stands on the fourth floor of the Hawks and Reed building in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/7/2019 11:47:23 AM
Modified: 11/7/2019 11:47:13 AM

Seventy-five-year-old Lucinda Kidder has spent most of her life in theater. Her retirement will be no different. Although she has decided to leave her post as the head of the 5-year-old Silverthorne Theater Co., she’s not quite done yet.

The Troy, N.Y. native — who co-founded the professional theater company with David Rowland, longtime former theater director at Northfield Mount Hermon School, in 2014 — said she’ll stay on as a board member for Silverthorne. Her second act is going to be just as exciting as it has been with the theater company.

While Kidder isn’t ready to share a lot of details about her post-retirement plans, which includes a new theatrical venture, she said she intends to open a space in downtown Greenfield that will house theater groups and performances, writing groups and other art-related activities. Specifically, Kidder said she and a few others will be leasing the first floor of 324 Main St., which is next door to the Pushkin Gallery.

“It’s a great space for performing arts,” she said. “It’ll be a performing arts incubator of sorts, and it’s basically located in the theater district, so it’s perfect.”

Kidder announced her retirement earlier this year, saying she would stay on as Silverthorne’s producer, among other titles, to see it through its final performance of the season, “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

On Friday, Silverthorne will celebrate another season completed, as well as the retirement of its co-founder and producing artistic director. She said the company’s new leadership will be announced then, and a few other announcements will be made. It will be held from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Pushkin Gallery on the corner of Main and Federal streets.

Kidder said that while her next project is still in the planning stage, there will be classes, small performances (the occupancy limit is under 50 people), lectures, play readings, film screenings and other activities held there. She said those involved are going to be writing grants and seeking other types of funding. They will be running the endeavor on a shoe-string budget until it’s established.

“My role will be to recruit people to use the space and do the publicity,” she said. “I’m just not ready to retire completely.”

Kidder said her life, to this point, has been filled with serendipitous moments that led her from one project to another.

From Troy, she moved to Franklin County and attended what was then known as Northfield School for Girls (later it became Northfield Mount Hermon School), where she graduated in 1962.

“That was my first encounter with this beautiful, wonderful valley,” Kidder said.

She first got involved in theater while she was in high school in Northfield, but it wasn’t until she was in college studying psychology at Swathmore College, a private library arts college in Pennsylvania, that it became a prominent part of her life.

“There was no theater program” she said. “So, I got involved in extracurricular theater.”

After college, Kidder traveled to India and joined a mixed theater group that included people who spoke all different languages. That’s where she directed her first show.

“It was very much like community theater that we enjoy here,” she said. “I didn’t have any training when I took on that first directing job. All I had was chutzpah — it worked.”

In India, Kidder said she recognized how much she loved theater, and when she returned to the states, she got a master’s degree in theater education from Emerson College in Boston.

“After that, I did a lot of small theater jobs and got married,” she said. “We moved to Los Angeles for a while and I started a community theater company there. We moved back here when my husband got a job here.”

By that time, it was 1975, and Kidder was pregnant with her second child. After his birth, Kidder lived in Ashlund and worked for a professional theater company there.

“I’ve done quite a bit in theater,” she said. “When I was at Emerson, I started a children’s theater in Boston. When I was in Lake Tahoe, I started a community theater company. Then, when I moved back here, I started other theater companies. I couldn’t help myself.”

After Kidder got a divorce, she moved to the North Shore and worked in a museum. While doing so, she found theater groups to work with and did some public relations for them.

“When I got back here, I became active with alumni work as a volunteer at Northfield Mount Hermon,” she said. “I worked on reunions.”

In 1993, she became the private school’s assistant director of alumni affairs.

“By that time, my daughter was able to attend NMH for free because I worked there,” she said. “And that’s when I also started working with the Northfield Country Players.”

Rowland was the theater teacher at the Northfield school at the time, and they became friends, sharing their love of theater.

But Kidder, who was in her early 60s at the time, decided she wanted to go back to school. She applied to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was admitted into the English Department to get a doctorate in Renaissance drama. While there, she started working for the Renaissance Center.

“I started a company doing Renaissance theater and became the program director at the Renaissance Center,” she said. “I wanted to do every part of theater possible.”

She said she had other adventures along the way, but it was when she sat with Rowland to talk and they decided to start a theater company that her life was taking an important turn, she said.

Kidder said Silverthorne began performing at Northfield Mount Hermon School, so all of the actors had to have CORI checks done. She said it was a wonderful time because students got to be involved, as well.

“I wanted to share my love of theater with all of those young people,” she said.

However, it wasn’t long before the theater company moved to Greenfield Community College and started performing in Sloan Theater.

“In fall 2016, we moved to Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center on Main Street,” she said. “We had a four-show run and loved it — everyone else seemed to love it, too. We sold out and people flocked in. All of that is history now, and I’m going to move on to make more history, I hope.”

Kidder said she doesn’t have many memories that stand out more than others, because her entire life has been lived the way she wanted to live it, though she never expected to have so many opportunities in theater and is “so very grateful” for all of it.

“Hawks and Reed has really worked out very well,” she said. “The theater company is in good shape and I’m happy to hand it over at this point. I’ve been doing all the producing, the business end of it, the hiring, the publicity, the grant writing. It’s time to pass those responsibilities to others and concentrate on what’s next.”

Kidder said she hopes there’s more serendipity to come.

“I’ve always seemed to meet the right people at the right time, find the right project at the right time,” she said.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269, or afritz@recorder.com.




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