The Hubbard Hall Effect

UPDATE – Any local fans of the Hubbard Hall magic will be seeing the Genie on this year’s playbill.  Word on the street is this year’s roster is going to be a good one.  Check out the fall schedule and find season tickets here:  2012-2013 Season

Signed prints, matted to fit an 11 x 14 are available on archival paper for $20 + $3 shipping, with 10% of each purchase going to Hubbard Hall.  I can take checks or send a paypal invoice.  Email me at for  more information. 

Original Post:There’s something magical in Cambridge, and while this post may seem like a shameless plug for the place that’s making it happen, I’m actually hoping that the writing will be like the rubbing of a genie’s lamp.


My husband was lured to the Hubbard Hall’s Theatre Company by another actor from Arlington. The invitation came at just the right time – he had engaged in a protracted battle with partial blindness that ended in stalemate – and at first he thought they had found the wrong man for the part. It turned out that the part – playing a slow-witted monk in a medieval monastary – was exactly what he needed and at exactly the right time.

Working, as many Vermonters do, at a job that sees little change or opportunity for growth (but for very nice people) and depressed from numerous healthcare battles that seemed to pop out of nowhere, he suddenly found himself under the spell of a company of players who had more faith in his acting potential than he did. And, while the play was important, it was the company that was the thing. This seemingly diverse tightly-knit group opened the seams long enough to let him in, and there he has stayed. And then the magic grew, and he invited our son in.

Thing 1 is not a huge fan of art museums, so we knew taking him to something with word Shakespeare in it could end badly, but my husband was enjoying the theatre so much that he decided to drag someone along, and Thing 1 happened to be handy (Thing 2 wasn’t theatre-trained yet). I watched him ride away, slumped in the front seat, determined to show Dad how wrong he was about Shakespeare and theatre. Three hours later they were charging back down the driveway, laughing and chatting, and Thing 1 was hooked. He hasn’t missed any of Dad’s performances since.

But the Hubbard Hall effect had just begun. As our family became friendlier with members of the theatre company, I began searching for writing classes. My harrassment of Hubbard Hall’s artistic director paid off, when he announced that he had convinced Jon Katz to lead a writing workshop. The discovery that there was a screening process was a worry, but I got lucky and got in.

We kicked off the first session with nervous but friendly introductions, and I think all of us were nursing a few insecurities at the beginning of the evening. But it was clear that our esteemed (I still say fearless) leader was not willing to feed those demons or to foster any competition or back-biting. When we left, the spell was taking effect, and within the week, we were reaching out to each other from our respective corners, marveling at the impact the group and the Project was having on our psyches.

Both boys are now fully under the spell at summer workshops offered by Hubbard Hall, and my mornings are spent working at a picnic table under a tree on their green. From my vantage point I see Cambridge residents flow in and out of morning fitness and music classes and, as they stop to commune with each other, I realize that the magic in this place isn’t just about theater or art or music or writing or any of the other educational opportunities it provides. It is about the connections it creates far beyond its borders. So as I rub my lamp, my wish is for all of us who are lucky enough to be touched by this magic to take a little piece of it out into the world and let it grow again.


10 thoughts on “The Hubbard Hall Effect

  1. Rachel, WOW! That’s an incredible drawing, and an equally captivating writing! Thanks for framing the ‘Magic” of Hubbard Hall!

  2. Wonderful drawing and a lovely account of the creative spark lighting an entire family. Best wishes to you all – and may that spark continue to inspire and nourish each one of you!

  3. Awesome Rachel! I don’t think I need to say how much we love Chris. He quickly became the emotional glue and go-to guy for happiness, love and fun in the company and HH in general! I only wish I had more time to do more shows with him! Whenever we learn he’s in a show the immediate reaction is “oh yeay!”. I’m so happy the kids are enjoying the summer. Behind the scenes life is not always so easy but the staff remain committed to the upcoming transition and these are the things that keep us going! Deb

  4. Rachel, what a wonderful post. I’d like to frame it. All your words about Hubbard Hall are so true and having your family involved makes it even more so. Here’s to the magic!

  5. Nice! I can corroborate everything said here, except I don’t remember convincing Jon Katz to do the workshop (did I Jon?), but it’s so good that he is, especially a I’d sworn to Rachel that I would give her a writing workshop in exchange for her husband’s bod for a month or so every now and then–and now the whole family’s in! Yippee!

  6. Oh no! They got him! The Hubbard Hall Players have inducted another poor sucker into the fold! Soon the rituals shall begin and Chris will begin the change….He’ll start ordering lattes and contemplating motivations. He’ll make faces in the mirror while wearing a beret. He’ll suddenly wonder how it feels to be a meatloaf while singing “I’m So Pretty” from West Side Story. Oh, it’s a slippery slope he is on.
    Great article.
    Great art.
    Great friends.

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