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Regional Spotlight: How Pride Films and Plays is Working Through The Global Health Crisis


Regional Spotlight: How Pride Films and Plays 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 Chicago's Pride Films and Plays with Executive Director David Zak.

First of all, I want to check in on the health and well-being of everyone at Pride Films And Plays. How is everyone doing during this difficult time?

Better now. We did our final show on March 14, and the rest of that month was very scary. We lost two shows that were running, had one just kicking off rehearsals, and another ready to be cast. Everyone was distressed to say the least as we tried to figure out the path to staying open. Could we stay open? Would we all lose our jobs? Would we lose our space?

You may know that we have two small theaters in our building, and the rent and utilities are nearly $10K monthly even if sitting empty. So the initial response was as close to a panicky 'well what do we do now that everything we know about our business model is changed?'

And the answer to that, as it has been so many times in my life working in non-profits, is turning to the donors and patrons who understand how the arts in the USA function. We get a tiny bit of government support, a much larger slice of funding from various foundations, and great deal of support from people sending in $5 or $50 or $500. The money comes from across the country, from former students, or others who have done very well in the arts, to those we have never met IRL. It is always gratifying to know people believe in you and what you do. Other people have sent stamps, or dropped off hand-sanitizer, or ordered form our Amazon wish list. The support has been awesome. The foundations in Chicago have acted quickly and in coordination with each other. It has been reassuring.

What do the days look like right now for those who work at Pride Films And Plays?

I am the only full time employee and am managing to make it through. And I am excited that while we have no work for box office staff, all other part time people are still at it. We were sad to close the show DEX & ABBY which had a Jeff Recommended run cut short. But even though the run was cut in half, the artists all got paid for the full run, which we were happy to do. Our second show FIVE ENCOUNTERS on a site called Craigslist just opened March 10, and is a one man show. The director Jeremy Ohringer and star Erik Sorensen and I all agree that if we get the 'all clear' to reopen on May 1, we will be ready for a performance on May 2. The show must go on.

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.

We just announced a live online reading of Terrence McNally's play MOTHERS AND SONS that will be performed by four actors, each from a different remote location, on April 16, and broadcast over Zoom, with virtual tickets available for $10.00. We're also planning another production - the farce LIPSTICK by Lane Michael Stanley for a date to be announced soon.

Two other productions that were scheduled to open in late April and early May - I PROMISED MYSELF TO LIVE FASTER and THE QUEEN'S FOOL: A QUEER FAIRY TALE are rehearsing remotely in hopes that we may be able to open them in May if Illinois' current shelter-in-place order is lifted after April 30, its current end date. We also are moving forward with preparations for our July production of THE PASS, which will be a US premiere; and we've booked a run of A SOUTHERN FAIRY TALE, a one-man show by Ty Autry that is currently scheduled to play from June 16 - 21. We're planning for the upcoming season to begin in fall, as well.

What is the best way for people to help Pride Films And Plays right now?

Made a donation at If you can't donate, please share with others in your social networks that we can use a hand.

For more information on Pride Films and Plays: Buy tickets to tonight's live online reading of Mothers and Sons HERE. Donate to Pride Films and Plays HERE.

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