BWW Review: In Hard Times, Phoenix Creatives ~ All Puppet Players and Brelby Theatre ~ Use Imagination To Keep The Spirit Of Theatre Alive!
For theatre companies in the Phoenix Metro region ~ as it is for the arts from Broadway to Seattle ~ the hits keep coming!
Sadly, we're not talking about sold-out shows but instead about the dampening and harrowing effects of the COVID-19 virus. Our mailboxes have been filled with announcements from one theatre company after another of postponements and cancellations that in their wake have critical consequences for both the well-being of artists and crews and their own financial stability and sustainability.
Meanwhile, the worst of times seem to spark the best of behaviors and innovation. Here are two examples of such initiatives. Kudos and thanks to both!
ALL PUPPET PLAYERS
The sharp-witted and edgy company's goal is to continue live theatre ~ with puppets! ~ online. In addition, they are offering any of the theatre companies whose shows have been either cut short or canceled in advance of opening the opportunity to highlight their work on the show.
As lifted from their website, the goal of the effort is, in the words of Shaun Michael McNamara, the company's creator, "to give back to a community that is scared. We get to make them laugh. It's live, they can talk to us, we can talk to them, we can do a community outreach while not venturing into the community." It is also a vehicle to raise money that can be poured back into the arts community during this serious time of need.
The self-proclaimed "puppet anarchists" have developed "a way to keep the lights on, help theaters in need and still adhere to the strict guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control. With their low-budget approach to everything they can get their hands on, they have created a weekly live television show that is part sketch, telethon, clip show and more. For each show, they are asking local artists, musicians, theaters to send in their submissions and they will show the clips and link their audience to that artists' PayPal, Venmo, or online business."
"So far, the experience has worked. Their first show ran for over 39 minutes and, in that time, they raised some money and hopefully made people laugh. They have pledged to do shows every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:00 p.m. at facebook.com/allpuppetplayers. They will be live streaming their shows to Facebook Live for now, until they can find a better, interactive provider."
"They already have a slew of guests booked including Great Arizona Puppet Theater, a Reiki Master, Craig Foughy from ABC 15 Sports, and loads of local musicians and community theaters asking to join in the fun. They have even booked a live wedding that will be taking place on their Friday broadcast. The couple had their wedding plans dashed and because of it are going to get married live so their family can see it...and experience a little puppet comedy to boot."
"In our darkest days, it is the artist we reach for to make us feel better. We are not good at anything else but making people laugh. So... that's what we'll do," says McNamara.
BRELBY THEATRE COMPANY
In Glendale, Brelby Theatre Company is commissioning a plethora of original monologues from Arizona writers. Their goal is to create partnerships between the writers and actors who will create performance pieces and record them. The company will subsequently deploy them as part of the #raiseupazarts initiative.
So, bottom line: These are the times that try our souls and out of which acts of community, kindness and mutual respect emerge. The above examples are but two of hopeful signs that theatre companies and their patrons can ride this crazy tide. For example, check out Justin Davidson's March 12th piece in Vulture: Arts Organizations Are Heading Into a Crisis. A Few Things Might Mitigate the Disaster.
All Puppet Players ~ https://www.allpuppetplayers.com/ ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Brelby Theatre Company ~ http://brelby.com/ ~ email@example.com ~ 7154 N 58th Dr. Glendale, AZ