Joining the chorus of Covid-related theater closings, Rock Island-based Genesius Guild on Tuesday afternoon announced it is canceling its planned 2020 season.

 “This is a decision that none of us took lightly – we have not canceled a season since the Genesius Guild started in 1956 – but we feel that it is the right call,” the nonprofit posted on Facebook.

 “This decision protects the health of our audience, our cast who would begin rehearsing together in the next month, and our crew, who would have needed to begin working in the upcoming weeks to get the stage ready for the season to start in June.”

The summer season kickoff at Lincoln Park Classic Theatre, 1120 40th St., was to be the annual “Ballet Under the Stars” from Ballet Quad Cities on June 5-7.

 The free weekend productions this summer were to include Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,” Euripides’ “Iphigenia at Aulis,” Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” and Aristophanes’ “The Knights.”

“This isn’t the sort of announcement we wanted to be sharing – usually, our posts at the end of April are to announce the stage build, our directors for the upcoming season, or the dates for auditions,” Genesius Guild said on Facebook.

“However, there is some good news – we are hard at work coming up with ways to still bring you classical theater, for free, this summer. It may not end up being live performances, but we have some ideas that we think you will enjoy.”

This past year has been a rough off-season for the unique theater troupe – which has specialized in presenting free performances of ancient Greek tragedy (in mask), Shakespearean comedies and tragedies, ancient Greek comedy in contemporary rewrites, opera and ballet.

Last November, it reported reported the theft of thousands of dollars worth of equipment from its locked storage space behind the Lincoln Park outdoor theater.

The theft included 12-foot and 10-foot ladders, a cabinet full of tools, a basket full of the theater company’s wiring, lamps, a two-wheel hand truck, and probably 100 other tools and items, said executive director Doug Tschopp.

Tschopp said the theft would have required several people and large trucks for transport. Some of it would only be of use to a theater, he said last fall.

The theft likely happened in October, and was discovered early in November by Andy Shearouse, Genesius Guild board member and tech director who was working with the city electrician at the theater.

Since 2015, Genesius has worked to raise $600,000 to create an endowment, to ensure its long-term survival.

“Nowhere else in the country can one find such a mix of free, classical productions: works designed to give our citizens, especially our youngsters, an easy acquaintance with the classics,” the organization says on its website, genesius.org.

“The Genesius Guild has long been pointed out as an ideal in community arts, but no other area has been able to sustain a program of this scope and diversity. It has been built on the talent, commitment, and abiding interest of those who perform and those who attend.”

 The summer cancellation joins similar moves by Mississippi Bend Players, based at Augustana College, Rock Island, and the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre.

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.