Regional Spotlight: How UC Santa Barbara's LAUNCH PAD is Working Through The Global Health Crisis

By: Jun. 11, 2020
Regional Spotlight: How UC Santa Barbara's LAUNCH PAD 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 UC Santa Barbara's LAUNCH PAD with Artistic Director Risa Brainin.

First of all, I want to check in on the health and well-being of everyone at UC Santa Barbara's LAUNCH PAD. How is everyone doing during this difficult time?

Thank you so much for asking. I think we are all reeling from George Floyd's murder and the civil unrest around the country and world. Alone, Together is comprised of over 100 theater-makers from all over the country, so each person is having a very particular kind of experience according to where they live. At the same time, we are all working very hard to produce a festival of 39 plays!

What do the days look like right now for those who work at UC Santa Barbara's LAUNCH PAD?

At the moment, it is Alone, Together all day, all night. Our company for the project is 24 playwrights, 23 directors, 61 actors, 5 stage managers, 3 designers and a production/artistic/administrative staff of 10 all working to create an engaging festival of incredible monologues and short plays written for the Zoom platform.

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.

Shortest term: final tech for Alone, Together. This has been an extraordinary experience. From commissioning these 24 brilliant, nationally recognized LAUNCH PAD alumni playwrights, to casting and rehearsing 39 plays over the past 4 weeks, to putting it into tech this week all against the backdrop of Covid-19 and protests around the world - it's been a challenge like no other any of us has ever experienced. We are so thrilled to share it with audiences.

Short term: Our LAUNCH PAD Summer Reading Series is the month of July. It includes three wonderful new plays by writers Linda Alper, Barbara Lebow and James Still. On Monday morning we get to work preparing these virtual performances.

Long term: Linda Alper's new play Shanghai will receive a preview production in spring 2021 directed by Sara Rademacher. We are hoping we can perform in person, but ready to go online if necessary. My mantra for everything right now: FLEXIBILITY!

Mostly, we have to keep going. Keep listening. Keep telling stories. Keep raising our voices. Keep moving forward with eyes wide open.

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

The LAUNCH PAD Summer Reading Series is a course and will be performed live online.

What is the best way for people to help UC Santa Barbara's LAUNCH PAD right now?

Join us for the performance of Alone, Together. In these very difficult times, we hope to bring some joy and reflection through art. Beginning on June 20 the full presentation for viewing, as well as a downloadable PDF of the plays, will be available at

For more info about Alone, Together:

For more info about their Summer Reading Series: