Arlington theaters start spreading good news

Yes, Broadway is closed until January. Around the world, live performance audiences have been replaced with paper cutouts, thousands of potted plants and more often than not, empty silence. There is no takeout or curbside delivery for theater but that hasn’t stopped ingenuity from holding up hope. For anyone who’s seen the recently released film version of Hamilton, it’s a hope worth hanging on to.

No matter what size organization or target audience, theater companies still need income, even when it can’t come from traditional ticket sales. In Arlington, creative businesses are once again reaching beyond the norm and testing innovations that all sectors can learn from.

Since 1967, Encore Stage and Studio has been helping students appreciate every aspect of theater through workshops, performances and camps. Immersed in the experience, students produce, perform, design sets, work backstage and even find themselves ‘front of house’. With programs set in tandem with school and summer schedules, now closed, Encore recognized right away that it could still offer a full array of opportunities even without the in-person experience. “It’s been an interesting transition” says Executive Director Sara Strehle Duke. The day school stopped, Encore quickly moved its spring break camps online. For teachers and students alike, the addition of teaching virtually put more emphasis on technical skills. It’s a natural fit and one that will follow the programs long past recovery.

Synetic Theater, on the cusp of celebrating it’s 20th anniversary, knew that nothing could replace the high intensity movement that sweeps over the audience at every performance. But what they did have, thanks to the film background of founders Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili, was a bank of performances that Synetic has been taping since the company began. The archive was just the start of the ways that Synetic has kept a connection with audiences via streaming. Beginning July 10, the company is releasing an original digital adaptation of the Decameron, a timely collection of novellas written in Italy in response to The Black Plague of 1347-1351. With storytelling at the core of Synetic’s mission, the organization is now partnering with Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) to launch ‘Synetic Serves’, a campaign to bring attention to the food insecurity crisis in the community. For Managing Director Jason Najjoum, it's more than a creative leap, "it's the right thing to do".

For businesses looking to shake up their mission or launch a new product, just look stage left for your cues.

Encore photo: Cindy Kane

Topic: Creative Economy
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