Arizona Theatre Company has postponed its season indefinitely, though it is expected to start its 54th season later next year.
“While we are frustrated by the need to suspend our live and streamed mainstage productions again, we knew that this decision might be necessary,” Artistic Director Sean Daniels said in a release.
“The combination of new constraints preventing live theatre productions, paired with the plain fact that we are not willing to risk the health of our audience, staff or artists, made this decision very clear for the company.”
But that doesn’t mean Daniels and other ATC staffers are sitting idly by.
He does a weekly podcast, bringing in actors, directors and playwrights for Zoom sessions. ATC is also planning digital readings. And two musicals are in the process of being developed.
“We’ve never been working harder,” said Daniels. “The staff has made the move to digital possible.”
In fact, the company’s digital offerings have provided for a much larger audience for ATC, he said.
“We started all this digital work to reach our subscribers. Our subscribers are glad we are doing it, but they love live theater; digital isn’t for them.”
Still, 24,000 new listeners are tuning in, and many of those are the much-sought after younger audiences.
“What we’ve found is that in Arizona, a younger audience is part of the new audience. If 5% come to live theater, that’s a game changer. We may have accidentally found a new audience.”
“Hang & Focus Live,” Daniels’ weekly podcast, will continue at 4 p.m. Fridays. Also planned is an audio production of a Lauren Gunderson play starring Emmy and Tony Award winner John Larroquette.
And those two musicals in production will make appearances on Zoom, as well. One is a jukebox musical with the songs of the band Chicago, the other is about Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The process of creating those pieces, destined eventually for ATC’s stage, will be made available on Zoom. Theater fans will get a look at the rarely seen work that leads up to a production.
“We’ve got big things coming down that we are able to do,” said Daniels.
“We are grateful to the community that has been so supportive. Last I looked, we had 140 new donors. We are so grateful we want to make sure, when we get through this, that there is world-class culture for Arizona.”
ATC has launched an initiative called “Bring Us Back to Live.” Its goal is to raise $250,000 which will be matched dollar for dollar by a group of anonymous donors.