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Regional Spotlight: How L.A. Theatre Works is Working Through The Global Health Crisis


Regional Spotlight: How L.A. Theatre Works is Working Through The Global Health Crisis

Now more than ever it is important to support theater and do our part to keep the art form that we love so much alive and as thriving as it can be during these unprecedented times. While the global health crisis has temporarily put the theater world on hold, pausing all live performances and large gatherings to help stop the spread of COVID-19, theaters around the country have taken a hit. During this time of adjusting to our temporary new normal, theaters are figuring out how to take care of their team, and discovering the best ways to virtually bring theater to audiences.

Through our regional theater interview series, we are checking in with theaters all around the country, talking to them about how they are handling these difficult circumstances, learning what they are doing to move forward, and discovering the best way for people to help regional theaters during this time.

Today we shine a spotlight on L.A. Theatre Works, with Artistic Producing Director Susan Loewenberg.

First of all, I want to check in on the health and well-being of everyone at L.A. Theatre Works. How is everyone doing during this difficult time?

Thankfully we are fine and busier than ever because of what we do. As you know our mission is to record the most significant stage plays in the American and World canons and to make them available to students and the general public worldwide. We broadcast a play weekly on our radio show heard throughout the US, in Berlin, Germany, and we are on the radio daily in China where we have 15 million weekly listeners. We also stream the broadcast worldwide and have a global audience of devoted listeners. In addition, we have a podcast series available on NPR One, Spotify, etc., and we can podcast plays there which may be too racy for broadcast such as Things you Shouldn't Say Past Midnight by Peter Ackerman, which may just be the funniest play we have ever recorded - well The Mother With The Hat with the original Broadway cast; Chris Rock, Bobby Cannavale, etc. might be in competition .... We have offered many non profits two plays which align with their mission that they can post on their websites for the next few months. Everyone is taking us up on this offer which is very gratifying. We also offered teachers worldwide 25 plays and study guides relevant to the junior and high school curriculum. Hundreds of teachers have signed up. Plays range from the classics like Romeo and Juliet and As you like It, to Luis Valdez' Zoot Suit and Katori Hall's wonderful play about Martin Luther King ,The Mountaintop.

What do the days look like right now for those who work at L.A. Theatre Works?

Needless to say, we are busier than ever and our staff is working overtime to be of service. We have a staff meeting every day as well as various two and three person meetings - all on Zoom.

How much planning is going on both short term and long term for the theater? I would like to hear about the immediate plans for the theater, it's upcoming productions etc., and what the theater is hoping/planning for in future months.

Of course we are trying as is everyone else to figure out both short and long term plans. We have set the seven plays we will record in front of the audience at our home at UCLA, but exactly when we can announce a schedule is obviously up in the air right now. The dates are there, but we may have to move things around. Our annual national tour is booked for 2020-21, but again, it's anyone's guess if we will be traveling this fall.

Do you have plans to bring any previously filmed productions/upcoming events/classes etc. online?

We are doing a fun project that our Associate Artistic Director, Anna Lyse Erikson dreamed up which will film in three weeks. We have cast three married couples- names embargoed for now- to each perform the same short story in their respective homes and we will edit it to include all three couples working with a top film director/editor Sonia Malfa. Stay tuned.

What is the best way for people to help L.A. Theatre Works right now?

Come to our website- enjoy listening to our weekly broadcast, our podcasts, and free streaming of our Relativity Series of 30 science themed plays, And of course, you can also buy recordings directly from us - over 500 terrific plays. And lastly, if you are so moved there is a lovely Donate button on the website.

For more information visit: Donate HERE. For more information on the 25 plays and study guides for teachers click HERE. Listen to their podcast HERE. Buy recordings of over 500 plays HERE.

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