The brochures have already been printed for the 2010-11 season at Laboratory Theatre, one of Bartell's resident companies, has suspended operations, leaving open slots in November and February.
The troupe's prime mover, Michele Good, "got a wonderful career opportunity from Wisconsin Public Radio that she couldn't pass up," according to Sarah Hoover, the Bartell's managing director. "So she decided to take a year-long sabbatical from theater. Her board discussed it and decided that, without Michelle, they really couldn't put on the season they'd planned."
Laboratory Theatre began producing "educational theater" at the Bartell in spring of 2009 and became one of the five resident companies last season, often selling out its shows. For 2010-11, the troupe had planned Really Rosie for November and Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes for February. Hoover says other resident troupes are negotiating to fill these slots. "It's inconvenient," she says, "but with others filling in, the financial impact will be low."
In the meantime, the Bartell has taken Laboratory Theatre off the roster of resident companies. "They intend to come back, hopefully next season, but the Bartell needs to be able to move on," Hoover says.
Hoover is eager to fill other openings on the Bartell's relatively sparse calendar this season. With the recession, the resident companies have opted to be conservative, planning fewer productions than usual. Hoover would like to see other companies come in to use the space.
"I'm not worried about the Laboratory slots," she says, "but I'd love to have more weeks sold."