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Lucinda Kidder’s retirement: Longtime director of Greenfield’s Silverthorne Theater turns over the reins

  • Lucinda Kidder stands before the set on the fourth floor of the Hawks and Reed building for one last play with Silverthorne Theater Co. before retiring. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Lucinda Kidder, co-founder of Silverthorne Theater Co., retired after the company’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” in late October. But she intends to stay busy in other theatrical ventures. 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 set of “The Diary of Anne Frank” last month at the Hawks and Reed building in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ



For the Gazette
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

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 nearly six-year-old Silverthorne Theater Co. (STC) in Greenfield, she’s not quite done yet.

The Troy, N.Y. native — who co-founded the professional theater company in 2014 with David Rowland, former theater director at Northfield Mount Hermon School — 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 include 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.”

Meantime, Silverthorne has appointed Carmela Lanza-Weil and Rebecca Daniels as the company’s new co-artistic producing directors. Both have decades of experience producing theater and have served STC for several years already, as board members, working artists, and informal consultants, according to Mary Kay Mattiace, president of the STC Board of Directors.

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,” last month.

Kidder said that while her Main Street 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.”

She first got involved in theater while at Northfield, but it wasn’t until she was in college, studying psychology at Swathmore 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.”

Going all in on theater

In India, Kidder said she recognized how much she loved theater, and when she returned to the U.S., 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 Ashland and worked for a professional theater company there.

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

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

Then came a move back to the Valley, where she did volunteer work for Northfield Mount Hermon on school reunions; in 1993, she became the 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 the stage.

But Kidder, who was in her early 60s at the time, decided she wanted to go back to school. She got into a doctorate program in Renaissance drama at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and also began working for the university’s 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 had other adventures along the way, but it was when she sat down with Rowland to talk about starting STC that her life began taking an especially important turn, she said. Silverthorne began performing at Northfield Mount Hermon School, so all of the actors had to have CORI checks done. Kidder said it was a wonderful time because students also got to be involved.

“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 the Sloan Theater. Then in fall 2016, STC moved to Hawks and Reed on Main Street in Greenfield.

“We had a four-show run and loved it — everyone else seemed to love it, too,” Kidder said. “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.”

All in all, she adds, 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.”

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.

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