Celebration and Anticipation: A Look at Past and Future Theatre in Naples
Because of COVID-19, theatres in Southwest Florida had to close down, and for many of which, that meant missing out on bringing multiple productions to their stage.
In an effort to celebrate all of the amazing local theatre Southwest Florida did get to see prior to COVID-19 shutdowns, I reached out to local directors, actors, students, artists, etc., asking if they would answer a couple questions about their experiences with theatre from this past season and what they're most looking forward to next season.
The questions were as follows:
1. What are you most proud of and happy audiences got to see at your theatre prior to COVID-19 shutdowns?
2. What is one thing you're looking forward to being a part of or sharing during the next theatre season?
I received so many responses from the local theatre community that I decided to split the article into two: Fort Myers and Naples. Below are the responses I received from Naples artists. Thank you all so much for responding! We celebrate your incredible accomplishments and are excited to see what you all are a part of next season. (Responses have been edited for clarity as needed.) To check out the Fort Myers article, click here: /ft-myers-naples/article/Celebration-and-Anticipation-A-Look-at-Past-and-Future-Theatre-in-Fort-Myers-20200601
Bryce Alexander, CEO/Executive Artistic Director, The Naples Players
1. I am most proud of the way our audience members, especially season subscribers, began to build connections with the people sitting around them. Each evening built a sense of family, with subscribers getting to know each other. It was a really empowering experience to see audience members coming together - almost like a regular family dinner - to take part in a performance.
I'm not sure I could pick any particular production that I am most proud of - you learn to look back fondly and appreciate all of the different stories that are told, but I do think that Making God Laugh has had extra relevance since the crisis began.
2. Giving our volunteer artists the chance to express their voices again is something that I can't wait to participate in. With all everyone has had to endure, the opportunity for an artist to inhabit another character's values and situations, while infusing their own personal experiences is exhilarating and impactful. At the same time, bringing our community back together again and allowing them the process of healing, telling their own stories, and absorbing new ones are what the theatre is all about. I think it will be more crucial, and more impactful, than ever.
I also think that our production of Mary Poppins will be crucial to helping audiences escape, think of a happier time, and help them process and recover from this unbelievable crisis.
Kristen Coury, Founder and Producing Artistic Director, Gulfshore Playhouse
1. I am most proud and happy that audiences got to enjoy It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play with us at Christmastime. Reflecting back on it, through the prism of the COVID pandemic, I am pleased that we were able to present something new, old-fashioned yet fresh, that we've never done before - a live radio play. And to see the importance of love, family, friends, and gathering in this play, I'm sure it did people's hearts good before the tragedy and challenge of this period. I'm also very glad they got to see Native Gardens, which was an audience favorite and was able to enjoy a full record-breaking run before the madness began.
2. Next season, I am filled with joy by the fact that Jeffrey Binder, our associate artistic director, will be writing a new one-man show, in which he will headline, and I will direct. I'm excited to tackle a creative project after all this self-isolation and sitting in front of screens, and who better to do that with than Jeffrey? I've directed several productions in which he starred, and we are very good collaborative partners. I know that it will be at once uplifting, thought-provoking, magical, and profound. I cannot wait to present this world premiere to our audiences and the wider world this November.
Scott Lilly, Artistic Director, The Studio Players
1. Our last show prior to COVID-19 was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The run was very successful and has helped us financially to continue meeting our expenses for a few months!
2. We are looking forward to opening Walter Cronkite is DEAD by Joe Calarco, starring Bonnie Knapp & Cindy Hile, as soon as we get to Phase II and get back into the Golden Gate Community Center's Joan Jenks Auditorium for rehearsals. The show was scheduled to run May 22-June 7th, and if all goes well, we'll be shooting to open the show possibly in September. We will be announcing our upcoming shows in August or September for the remainder of 2020 and what's coming 2021.