BWW Feature: TRUE STORYTELLING GOES VIRTUAL at Powerstories Theatre
Three weeks ago, at Powerstories Theatre, everything was normal. Life as they knew it, in the local professional theatre community, went like clockwork, predictable. A show began rehearsals, another opened, and another closed.
And then the pandemic swept across the globe. The box office closed, and the theatre doors shut for the safety of cast, crew, and patrons. As a matter of life and death from the virus, people socially isolated.
For many, Powerstories Theatre was what brought joy to busy lives, represented a welcome reprieve from the 9-to-5 grind, and was the social connection in which many looked forward.
Now, three short weeks later, on social media, performers are looking for a creative outlet, singing over soapy hands; playwrights are writing short stories and plays revolving around the virus; musicians are giving virtual concerts from their living rooms.
During this time, Powerstories Theatres has created a brilliant way to connect with a global audience while the stage is dark.
Founder Fran Powers and her team have discovered an innovative way to be true to their mission statement of "staging true stories to open minds and hearts and inspire action worldwide" while adapting to entertain their audience in this new virtual reality.
In 2000, when Fran returned from her cross-country bike journey, she founded Powerstories Theatre with a simple question, "do you have a story to tell?" Twenty years later and hundreds of true story productions later, the theatre is celebrating its unexpected dark time and its 20th anniversary by asking the same question. "Do you have a story to tell?"
The theatre is going back to its roots to ask everyone - young and old - "during this unprecedented time in our history, what brings you joy? What is your story?"
Participants can share their true stories, the ones that bring them joy, create a short maximum 3-minute YouTube or Vimeo video hashtag #positivelypowerstories and post the link, or email an MP4. Storytellers can also make an audio file MP3, or email their personal artwork, their photograph, their sketch, their painting, etc. and email as JPG, GIF, or PNG.
During everyone's time sequestered, Powerstories is trying to put the social back in isolation safely.
"We know people are hurting during this time, so we will also do periodic random drawings for cash and other prizes for our storytellers. Our goal is to help during this trying time."
Using the tagline spreading joy, not germs, celebrating its 20th anniversary during the pandemic, the intimate, professional theatre will be sharing the true stories of storytellers around the globe on a weekly episodic basis beginning on April 1.
"We are building something beautiful," Fran said, "We cannot be very physically connected at this time, but we can be spiritually connected."