Mile Square Theatre: A Non-Profit Professional Theatre in Hoboken

One year ago, on March 13, 2020, the entertainment world was rocked with all forced to close doors indefinitely. Greatly affected by the pandemic was Mile Square Theatre (MST). Hoboken’s premiere space for theatre was in the middle of its run of Chiara Atik’s comedy 5 Times in One Night which was on its way to being a box office hit. Like other businesses, it thought business could resume as usual in the Fall. After a few months, there was a realization that re-opening as normal would not be a reality for quite some time. Artistic Director Chris O’ Connor shared insights on MST’s experience through the COVID-19 pandemic, how they have been able to navigate these unprecedented times, and plans for the future. Read on to learn all about Hoboken’s own Mile Square Theater.

{Photo credit: @milesquaretheatre}

In 2003 Mile Square Theatre was founded as a non-profit professional theatre with a mission to enrich and engage the region through the production of professional theatre and innovative arts education. Since its inception, MST has built a community of theatre lovers and those new to the space alike. Each year, several plays are conducted in the space, and performing arts courses are offered. 

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Like other businesses, Chris shares that the theatre was in a state of shock in March. As a non-profit that operates on funding from donors and volunteers, its future was uncertain. This state of shock did not last long as the theatre was fortunate to receive a PPP Loan in the first round from Kearny Bank along with the unbelievable support from the community during Hudson Gives, a week of giving hosted by the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce.

mile square theater

{Photo credit: @milesquaretheatre}

Funding for this non-profit organization is key, however, staying active and being innovative with work was imperative for the team at MST. “Our dance and theatre teachers did an amazing job of successfully moving all of our classes online quickly. Theatre students went from making plays to making short films at home. Dance students made improvised ballet barres out of chairs and tables at home.” Chris explained. 

Adjusting to COVID-19

COVID-19 safety protocols were quickly implemented to allow for some in-person offerings with extreme caution. With these precautions, Dance Director Sarah Weber-Gallo was able to create a live dance piece in the windows of the space with an outdoor audience, one of very few live events in the past year. Through their creativity, MST has been able to produce various shows online with some shows finding continued life throughout the country. Production of Lia Romeo’s Sitting and Talking has been streamed at Durango Playfest in Colorado and will been seen at Laguna Playhouse in California later this year.

{Photo credit: @milesquaretheatre}

Despite hardships faced and a drastic change of pace daily, MST took on an additional endeavor in a large way in 2020: fighting systemic racism. “The events of 2020 have shaken us,” Chris said when asked about MST’s ongoing commitment to antiracism. The theatre has created actions to increase access to theatre for underrepresented groups, engaging and creating employment opportunities for BIPOC artists, and bringing diverse stories to its audience.

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Chris went on to share “Our staff and our board are dedicated to these values. And we recognize it will not happen overnight. We’re in it for the long haul.”

Community engagement has always been a pillar of MST and continues to be even with some physical distance. As a recommendation for children Chris gave a suggestion “If you are looking for a safe and creative place to enroll your kids in a class, we are there. The quality of our instruction is phenomenal!” 

{Photo credit: @milesquaretheatre}

Ticketed shows such as Eric Walton’s Virtual Impossibilities is available right now as well as a free podcast performance of The Playbill Gallery by Joseph Gallo. MST knows that as the world opens, entertainment will begin to come back but theatre will likely be one of the last industries to be able to open at full capacity. In the meantime, the team is working diligently to model live virtual shows and productions that hold up on streaming platforms which can be a bit tricky at times.

Support of the theatre is always appreciated. To stay up to date with current and upcoming shows, MST can be found on social channels @milesquaretheatre or on its website. The theatre will be participating in Hudson Gives again this year which is set to run on May 13th

Donations can be made at any time via the site to help support the amazing mission of this non-profit organization. The future is certainly bright for MST. 

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Written by:

Jordan and Joelle, contributors and volunteer coordinators to HobokenGirl are true Jersey Girls. Originally hailing from down the shore in Hazlet, NJ, the girls made their "rite of passage" move to Hoboken a few short years after graduating with degrees in Communications from Loyola University. Outside of their 9-5 as senior publishers in NYC, the twins can be found baking cookies, reading the latest books, or walking their yorkie-poo Chica. Like many 20-somethings, Jordan and Joelle are balling on a budget and know how to score the best deals around town