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Stephanie Gularte, CEO/producing artistic director at American Stage, believes new virtual programs will allow American Stage to continue to provide a sense of community unity. 

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ST. PETERSBURG – As the world continues to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic, preparations are underway at American Stage for the theater’s virtual return.

American Stage is planning to launch a series of new virtual engagement programs dedicated to keeping the community connected through the powerful experiences of live story-telling and impactful arts education. The new launch includes Virtual Stage, where the stage and the digital world come together; and Virtual Academy, an online classroom where students of all ages have the opportunity to explore new people, places and ideas safely from home.

"While the current pandemic crisis has closed our doors to live events indefinitely, we have had the opportunity to consider the core of our mission and determine how to move forward in a time of such great uncertainty,” said Stephanie Gularte, CEO/producing artistic director at American Stage. “Ultimately, underlying all of our work is the goal of uniting our community through the shared human experience via stories and classes that promote connection and empathy. Our virtual programs will allow American Stage to continue to provide a sense of community unity and to help keep us all connected."

Virtual Stage

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Programs falling under the Virtual Stage umbrella include the following:

• The staff and artists of American Stage will present Summer Shorts, a collection of live performances and videos that audiences can watch from home, including the Shakespeare Lite Festival in June, a 10-minute New Short Plays Festival in July and the Living Room Plays, celebrating favorite scenes and characters from American Stage’s 43-year production history, coming in August.

• Spotlight: The American Stage Podcast, featuring a wide range of guests who share insights into the ideas, creativity and humanity underlying American Stage’s work and art of live theater.

• Coming in June, Creative Conversations, a series of live weekly virtual community roundtables hosted by Gularte, that will cover a range of topics about the arts during and after COVID-19.

Virtual Academy

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Programs designed as part of American Stage’s Virtual Academy include:

• Summer camps will take place virtually June 8 through July 31 with onsite camps planned for June 29 through July 31. During Summer camp and youth programs, American Stage provides quality theater training in a positive and inspiring environment that gives young people the tools to be bolder, wiser and more compassionate on stage and in life. All experience levels are welcome.

• American Stage provides accessible adult programs for adult students and professional artists to continue their theater education through digital and social media platforms. Offerings include virtual weekly classes and ASI Study Hall, a monthly happy hour improv discussion.

• For generations, Tampa Bay families have explored powerful and playful stories together with American Stage. Family Connections provides opportunities to discover new people, places, and ideas together at home with virtual programs and activities created for the whole family to experience together, including a monthly virtual family talent show.

• American Stage's Creative Wellness programs inspire social, emotional and intellectual growth through enriching classes, outreach partnerships as well as Creative Tips, free mini how-to videos from members of the American Stage team to engage creative minds, bodies and imaginations at home.

“Exploring and connecting through the art of storytelling fosters well-being for us all as individuals and as a community,” said Tiffany Ford, director of education, outreach and improv. “We’re so excited to work with our youth and adult students again, and take them on a fresh educational journey.”

Further information, including how to register for classes and camps, can be found online at americanstage.org.

American Stage Theatre operates as a nonprofit 501-(C)(3) and has been providing live theatrical performances as a professional regional equity theater in the heart of St. Petersburg since 1977. American Stage’s mission is to reinforce the power of live theatre with high quality productions that excite and challenge a diverse audience. Its year-round programming seeks to realize this through the Mainstage Season, Spotlight Series, 21st Century Voices: New Play Festival, American Stage in the Park and Improv.