Cohesion Theatre Company in Canton going on 'hiatus,' canceling final two shows of season

Cohesion Theatre Company in Canton going on 'hiatus,' canceling final two shows of season
A scene from "Sally McCoy," presented by Cohesion Theatre Company in 2017. Katharine Vary, left, was in the title role, with Jonas Gray as "Devil" Anse Hatfield. Cohesion Theatre Company is going on hiatus. (Shealyn Jae Photography)

Baltimore’s 5-year-old Cohesion Theatre Company will be going on “hiatus” at the end of this month, forcing the cancellation of its final two shows of the 2018-2019 season.

Specifics on the company’s future were not detailed in a media release announcing the “production hiatus,” dated June 11. “We look forward to making more audacious art with you all soon,” the release promised.


Co-founder and executive director Brad Norris, whose resignation was announced in the same release, labeled this “a decision that’s been in the works for a little while.” In addition to his own decision to depart, he said, the company is facing the sale of its performance space, known as The Fallout Shelter, adjacent to Canton’s United Evangelical Church. The building’s boiler system failed over the winter, he said, and the company rigged up a system of heaters to keep audiences warm during its winter production of “Frankenstein.”

Despite that, Norris noted, “Frankenstein” proved one of the company’s more successful productions, selling out nearly half of its performances. And ticket sales for the just-completed production of “Tornkid” also went “really well,” he said.

Artistic director Jessica Rassp emailed that she has plans “for events that will keep Cohesion active during our hiatus.” She also said she will be attending graduate school and, once done, she may “change my focus to reactivating Cohesion’s production pursuits.”

Zoe DiGiorgio, the company’s marketing director, said she is confident this hiatus will not mark the end of Cohesion.

“We all really believe in what Cohesion did,” she said, “and the fact that this is not the end permanently is giving us a lot of hope… We’re going to be able to come back and see Cohesion again.”

Norris, whose full-time job is production manager for the Community College of Baltimore County, said he was simply worn out from the demands of running Cohesion, and that the remaining leadership will be looking to draw new blood into the company.

“It was not so much that we couldn’t afford financially to keep going,” Norris said, “but we couldn’t afford to shift the burnout onto someone else.

“I’m just taking some time to put focus on my personal life, which is needed,” he said. “We have big ideas and big plans, and we need more people to execute them. That’s going to need some time to think through, and we’re going to take our time.”

Company officials do plan, he said, on finishing this year’s Playwrights Fellowship, focusing on the works of local playwrights, with staged readings of two plays set for September at a location still to be determined.

Tickets for the group’s last two productions, “Blood Wedding” and “All We Know Is Not Enough,” had not been put on sale, Norris said.

Cohesion is planning a “garage sale” of props and other supplies and equipment at The Fallout Shelter, 923 S. East Ave., from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 15 and noon-4 p.m. June 16. The company also has scheduled a “Hiatus Celebration” for the same location at 7 p.m. June 28, with tickets starting at $10 and proceeds earmarked for continuing the Playwrights Fellowship during the hiatus.