Five Questions With: Louis Giancola

Louis Giancola is the new chairperson for the Trinity Repertory Company’s board of trustees. Giancola is the former CEO and president of South County Health and has been a member of Trinity Rep’s board since 2014. He most recently served on the executive committee.

Giancola spoke to Providence Business News about his future plans as board chair and how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the performing arts group.

PBN: What are your plans for Trinity Rep as board chair?

GIANCOLA: Trinity Rep has a 56-year history of providing great theater to the residents of southern New England. It not only entertains but challenges audiences to contemplate the most challenging issues faced by society. The most important role of the board is to work with the executive director and the artistic director to sustain that storied history.

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My predecessor, Suzanne Magaziner, has done fabulous work, in conjunction with our great leaders, to not only produce great performances and educational programs but to position Trinity financially to weather the storm produced by COVID-19.

I’m assuming the chairmanship during a time when society is facing up to the destructive history of racism in this country, while in the midst of adapting to the conditions brought about by the pandemic. The board and leadership will strive to be a relevant force in our community to both provoke dialog and healing through great theater.

PBN: How has Trinity Rep been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

GIANCOLA: The COVID-19 pandemic caused an abrupt end to an otherwise great season for Trinity Rep. The production of August Wilson’s “Radio Golf” was one of the most moving performances I’ve witnessed at Trinity and, of course, “The Prince of Providence” was an incredible success.

The foreshortened season meant that our great company of actors were suddenly out of work, along with most of the production staff. The Trinity staff is like a family and so the closing of the theater was very painful for its members. Fortunately, our great leaders, [Executive Director] Tom Parrish and [Artistic Director] Curt Columbus, immediately took steps to minimize the financial impact on Trinity. They also developed ways to maintain our relationship with our audience through new and archived digital material and a weekly livestreaming presentation.

The uncertainty about the future has made it difficult to plan, but our leaders have developed contingent plans for a season to begin in November, assuming conditions are safe.

PBN: What safety protocols will Trinity Rep have in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of both audience members and performers?

GIANCOLA: The health and safety of our audience, artists and staff are utmost in the mind of theater leadership and the board. Rest assured that Trinity will not put anyone at risk when we return to live theater. Trinity Rep is committed to complying with all government and public health regulations and guidelines, and implementing best practices for cleaning, sanitizing and risk mediation.

PBN: Are you concerned that Trinity Rep will see a hesitance on the part of the public to attend performances when the theater reopens?

GIANCOLA: It is, of course, impossible to predict where our community will be in five months when we hope to welcome live audiences again. Our knowledge about the risk factors, control measures and treatment options grows daily, but experts warn that the virus will be with us for some time.

I anticipate that some members of the community will consider the risk of attending live theater to be high enough to keep them away, despite the safety measures in place. I also expect many people will be hungry for great theater and come out in large numbers.

Leadership is planning to make professionally produced digital presentations of the live performances available so high-risk individuals can enjoy Trinity from the comfort of their homes. As Curt Columbus says, “It can’t entirely replace the experience of live theater, but it can still be rewarding.”

PBN: What do you hope to see with Trinity Rep when the new season starts in 2021?

GIANCOLA: If we start with “A Christmas Carol,” as currently planned, I hope to see children and parents sharing the unique experience of Trinity Rep’s iconic production and holiday tradition. Beyond that, I know, not hope, that we will see great productions and great performances by our resident company that will thrill audiences and provoke dialog about the great issues of our time.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.