Save the Bijou, Save Bridgeport
- OnStage Editor-in-Chief
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Trivia note: The first piece I wrote on this blog was about The Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport, CT. I picked the Bjiou for a couple of reasons. The first was that I was incredibly impressed with the bold show selections, intimate space and potential it had for local theatre. Another, admittedly, was because I wanted to work there myself.
In the two years since I wrote that piece, things were certainly on the rise for this theatre. With a strong leadership group and philosophy of inclusion, The Bijou quickly started producing some of the best local theatre in the state.
But beyond the quality was the types of shows they were choosing. While neighboring theatres would pick standard fare, The Bijou was performing works that hardly ever get local productions such as The Pillowman, Murder Ballad and Take Me Out.
And the work was fantastic as well. Over the past three years The Bijou earned 25 OnStage Critics Awards nominations and Geoffrey Gilbert won this year's Best Actor in a Play for their production of One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest.
But as the quality of productions were rising, apparently so was the cost. And now, because of financial issues and a rising rent, The Bijou Theatre will close next week.
Which is really unfortunate because I count The Bijou as one of the bright spots of Bridgeport. For a city that, let's be honest, has seen better days and is only about an hour from Broadway, the theatre presents a wonderful opportunity for creatively staged performances and giving Bridgeport residents, especially the youth, a place to explore their passions.
Bridgeport has the opportunity to become the arts epicenter for the Fairfield County of CT. A strong theatre, music, performance scene will not only bring interest into the city but it can help stimulate local business and restaurants. I'm not the first to think that.
But there is some good news in all of this, we have a chance to save The Bijou from becoming another closed theatre turned into God knows what. Organizers and staff are hoping to raise $100,000 before the end of this week.
They have set up a Gofundme page to try to raise the funds. I think it would be amazing if you helped out.
Now I'm not asking you to donate your disposable income. I'm asking you for the change in your seat cushions or in the cup holders of your car. Right now our Facebook pages has over 73,000 likes. If every single one of your donated just $1, that would help The Bijou get to their goal, if you donated $2, they would surpass it.
The page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/2h69bt6k
I only ask that you donate a small amount in hopes it goes along way in preventing another closed theatre. This is a time were creative exploration is needed and Bridgeport needs The Bijou.