ST. PETERSBURG — “All the world’s a stage,” Shakespeare wrote; “And all the men and women merely players.”
But for the last six months, many players have vacated their everyday roles in favor of ones much less visible, much less vulnerable. The pandemic has changed every aspect of society, from the stages upon which we play out our own lives to the theaters and performing arts venues where we seek entertainment, enlightenment and culture.
American Stage, Tampa Bay’s longest-running professional theatre company located in the heart of St. Petersburg, is ready to raise the curtain on a new hybrid season designed to ensure productions will be presented to audiences regardless of ongoing social distancing circumstances. Tapping themes of hope, innovation and inspiration, the upcoming season — dubbed “Reimagine” — will feature a digital theatre series, a hybrid production series, family series, two festivals including the annual 21st Century Voices: New Play Festival, and 10 Season Artist Shorts.
The new season will get underway in October with new work commissioned by American Stage to be presented as a quality digital theatre experience as well as the first offering in the Family Series.
In 2021, the company intends to safely bring audiences together for live performances that will also be virtually streamed to audiences at home. Throughout the entire season, all Virtual Stage productions will be available via live
streaming, giving audiences the option to return to the theatre or to remain in the comfort of their own homes to view quality streaming professional theatre performances.
“Our 2020-2021 Season: Reimagine embraces this time of transition and change in our world and within our art form,” said Stephanie Gularte, CEO and producing artistic director at American Stage. “It was essential that we craft a season that allows us to remain connected to our community at a time when we all deeply need the meaningful human connection that powerful storytelling can provide, while at the same time preparing for ongoing flexibility in an evolving public health landscape.”
American Stage will introduce a new membership program that provides all-access, all-season, to streaming productions, performed live on their Virtual Stage. Tickets for the entire season are delivered directly to each member’s American Stage ticketing account. Memberships can be purchased individually or by household. Newly launched sustaining member sponsorships are helping fund the artists and staff who create and deliver season programming. Sustaining sponsors also fund the essential technologies needed to realize the new virtual season, PPE for safety protocols and digital inclusion and access for artists, students and audiences.
“This season, American Stage subscribers, donors and sponsors come together, in support of our beloved professional theatre and to welcome new audiences, as one community — the American Stage Membership Community,” said Stephanie Snyder, managing director. “The program is designed so members can enjoy the full season of productions, with all-access to all-streaming performances. The American Stage Membership Community will help create sustainable professional theatre, with innovation, inspiration and inclusion for all.”
Following is a summary of 2020-2021 season selections:
Digital Theatre Series:
● October/November 2020 — “Letters to Kamala,” an American Stage commissioned work by Rachel Lynett.
● November 2020 — “Kate — The Unexamined Life of Katharine Hepburn” by Rick Foster.
● December 2020 — “Nosotros La Gente (We The People),” an American Stage commissioned work by Jerry Montoya
● October/November 2020 — “Fairytales Reimagined: Stories for a New World,” adapted from Grimm's Fairy Tales by Sadie Lockhart, Patrick A. Jackson and Tiffany Ford
● December 2020 — “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” adapted by Joe Landry
Hybrid Theatre Series
● January 2021 — “The People Downstairs” by local playwright Natalie Symons
● February/March 2021 — “Satchmo at the Waldorf” by Terry Teachout
● May/June 2021 — “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play” by Jocelyn Bioh
● July/August 2021 — “Romeo & Juliet in America (the one with the happy ending)” by William Shakespeare and adapted by American Stage
● January 2021 — Fifth annual 21st Century Voices: Emerging Plays — New Play Festival
● Summer 2021 — AS IF! Improv Festival
American Stage in the Park presented by Bank of America
April/May 2021 — “Footloose - The Musical”
Season Artist Shorts
Featured artist mini-performances each month throughout the season. Free for the American Stage membership community.
Linking creative arms across the country! Providing American Stage membership access to dynamic performances and programs from participating theatres.
American Stage Theatre operates as a nonprofit 501(C)(3) in St. Petersburg, providing live theatrical productions as a professional regional equity theatre since 1977.