ST. PETERSBURG — American Stage recently launched its PSA initiative, repurposing staff expertise to benefit and enrich local and national communities.

With live programming currently paused due to the COVID-19 health crisis and social distancing directives, the team at American Stage, the Tampa Bay area’s longest-running professional live theater, has launched a series of PSA videos featuring staff members utilizing their skills in creative tutorials.

“We have a very talented staff with a diverse range of skill sets who are all dedicated to our community,” said Stephanie Gularte, CEO and producing artistic director at American Stage. “When our programming was suddenly halted, it became important to us right away to pivot and to find other creative ways to make an impact.”

The first PSA, released on March 26, featured American Stage costume shop manager Jill Castle creating face masks to donate to local health organizations using in-house equipment, fabric and materials from the costume shop. Dozens of masks have already been delivered to facilities in need. Castle hopes that with her efforts, along with the efforts of the American Stage apprentice cohort and other staff members, over 200 masks will be donated in the coming weeks to various health care companies with immediate needs. Castle, leading this initiative, was even able to connect with a nurse and received feedback on how to enhance future construction for longevity after washing.

“We recognize that in a time of crisis, we all need to be thinking of the greater good. It fulfills an urgent need in the community but also keeps us active, rather than idle,” said Kristin Clippard, associate artistic director. “There is a movement across the country amongst individual makers and across the industry in theater costume shops to help this effort. It's fueling a sense of purpose and togetherness in tough times.”

The company is encouraging others in the community to create masks as well, posting instructions at americanstage.org/masks. Castle is encouraging those interested in helping to visit the Masks for Medical Workers in Tampa Bay Facebook page to learn about who is collecting mask donations. Videos can be viewed on American Stage’s social media channels.

“Hopefully, by sewing and providing masks, we are making a small difference in helping our local health care workers get through this very trying time,” Castle said.

Additional American Stage PSAs will include Jerid Fox, director of production. Fox will provide a tutorial on “set dressing your remote workstation.

Other PSAs will include:

• “How to play creatively at home” with Tiffany Ford, director of education and outreach

• “Graphic design basics” with Roman Black, marketing manager

The videos can be viewed on American Stage’s social media channels.

“While American Stage’s live programming and events are currently on pause, we will seek innovative new opportunities to work in partnership with our community to focus on our collective well-being.” Gularte said.

American Stage Theatre operates as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and has been providing live theatrical performances as a professional regional equity theatre in the heart of St. Petersburg since 1977. Visit americanstage.org.