With heavy hearts we share the sad news that our visionary founder, Lola Jaffe, passed away on July 7, 2021. In 2002, Lola looked at a threatened and neglected historic theater and saw beauty, transcendent performances, transported audiences, and one show following straight on the heels of the next in perpetuity. Then she started calling her friends to help her make it happen.
Lola was the kind of person whose absence is unimaginable. She hummed with liveliness, intelligence, and genuine interest in the people and world around her. Creative by nature, she lent her energies to making the world a richer, more connected place. We would not have the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center without Lola’s founding vision and roll-up-your sleeves hard work. And although the Mahaiwe’s restoration and growth was among her proudest triumphs, it was one of a long list encompassing family, friends, community, and the arts.
I wonder if part of what drew Lola to a life around theatrical stages was the complexity. It is hard to imagine any other enterprise would have suited – and fully engaged – someone so multi-talented, empathic, sensitive, and generous. She was a discriminating judge of quality, a consummate connector of people, a gifted hostess, a natural performer, an instinctive politician, a driven and imaginative entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and a true friend. She poured all those qualities into making the Mahaiwe, and everything she did, come alive.
Lola’s generous spirit will endure in the institutions and people that she touched because, most of all, she was an inspiration. Lola didn’t just believe in the power of imagination, she lived it, she proved it. And then she shared it, inviting others to come out and play, too.
Lola loved seeing audiences turn up at the Mahaiwe and have a good time. When we enjoy a show at the Mahaiwe, that is Lola’s gift to us all.