BWW Feature: Brelby Theatre Company Thrives In Spite of COVID-19
Brelby Theatre Company is a prolific, independent theatre located in the heart of Historic Downtown Glendale Arizona.
Brelby's founders, Shelby and Brian Maticic, a couple with a toddler, are both theatre teachers, producers, directors, actors and designers. They're dealing with COVID-19 in their unique, inimitable way. They are nothing, if not resilient.
Brelby is remarkable. It isn't a professional theatre, because they can't pay living wages yet, though they do offer honoraria. Neither are they a community theatre. Brelby has a fiercely loyal resident company made up of volunteers who act, design, stage-manage, run the box office, and sweep up. They are, for the most part, theatre professionals. Most have theatre degrees, many graduate degrees. There is a shorthand vocabulary among the core that comes from years of working together as an artistic family.
Since COVID-19 forced a lockdown only one-week into rehearsals for Shakespeare In Love, Brelby has been busy as ever. Both Maticics have been teaching online for Metro Arts. They have also been home with their toddler and have been producing non-stop creative content on their dynamic, binge-worthy YouTube channel.
Shelby is sitting president of the AriZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence, and has been vigilantly promoting member companies' activities and lion-hearted efforts to survive.
Brian has been going into Brelby's charming, empty theatre space, working on his own, building the set for Shakespeare In Love that will open someday, because as the play teaches us, "The show must - GO ON!"
Shakespeare in Love is funded by the City of Glendale's Centerline Arts & Cultural Initiative. (This generous funding is allowing Brelby to present the production for free to the general public.)
Shakespeare in Love
Based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard
and adapted for the stage by Lee Hall
with music by Paddy Cunneen
Penniless and indebted to two demanding producers, struggling young playwright William Shakespeare is tormented by writer's block until he meets the beautiful Viola de Lesseps, daughter of a wealthy merchant, whose fiery passion for poetry and drama leaves her secretly longing to be an actor. Both are despondent when they learn that Viola's father has promised her to the stuffy Lord Wessex in order to gain a title for their family. Under the veil of secrecy, Will and Viola's passionate love affair becomes the basis of the very play he is writing - Romeo and Juliet. With opening night - and the wedding day - fast approaching, the plots race toward a parallel conclusion. Will it all work out in the end or are the two star-crossed lovers destined for tragedy?
Brelby's 2020 season is postponed due to COVID-19. Shakespeare In Love will be the first show when the theatre reopens.