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Bill George Cofounded Touchstone Theatre 38 years ago based on a big idea: to transform the way art was made. Rebalancing the traditional power structure—from a director with primary control to a collaboration where all performers are given creative agency—meant a vision could be shared in every sense of the word.
Over the years, the Touchstone ensemble has been an expression and a reflection of that philosophy, and of the soul of Bethlehem. Today, the ensemble is comprised of a core of six individuals, including Bill, Artistic Director JP Jordan, Managing Director Lisa Jordan, General Manager Emma Ackerman, Education Director Mary Wright, and Ensemble Member and Director of Theater at Moravian College Christopher Shorr. “It’s a profound creative collaboration,” says Bill, one that is constantly evolving, and that has touched the lives of many in Bethlehem and beyond—artists and audiences alike, one generation to the next.
That depth of experience, as an ensemble and as Bethlehemites, is what gives Touchstone its unique power in the community. Starting October 4, 2019, Touchstone will be presenting the ten-day Festival UnBound: a series of original art performances and happenings presented to mark the anniversary of its Steel Festival, created 20 years ago to help Bethlehem process the trauma of the Steel’s closing. A partnership with the City of Bethlehem, Festival Unbound will look to the past, celebrate the present, and create a vision for the future, for all. “It’s going to be a ton of fun,” says Bill. “We’ll be using the arts not just as entertainment but as an opportunity for transformation, exalting and celebrating our community.” Consider our calendars marked.