A few years back, John Thomas and I hatched the idea for SiteLines Indy.
The idea: Partner with organizations that have particular interest areas and stage readings of outstanding plays that match those interests, bringing theater to new audiences on their turf.
We partnered with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for a presentation of Michael Hollinger’s play “Opus” (pictured), using a live string quartet. We took up residence at Gallery 924 for Keith Bunin’s “The Credeaux Canvas” followed by a lively discussion about the gray area where homage becomes stealing. And we offered Richard Nelson’s “Frank’s Home” to an audience at Indiana Landmarks packed with architects and historic preservation folks.
You get the idea.
Tonight, we’ll be at the Indiana History Center for a performance of Norman Corwin’s “The Rivalry,” about the Lincoln/Douglas debates. We’ve got an outstanding cast of professional actors as well as students from Young Actors Theatre who will read from Civil War letters from the Indiana Historical Society’s collection. (Ticket info here).
Building connections through such events, I believe, is essential to growing theater audiences.
In addition to providing a memorable, thought-provoking, entertainment evening, I hope that these readings help connect more people to the arts available through other theaters. There are audiences that could really enjoy theater if they could be connected to it in a way that speaks directly to their interest areas. We hope SiteLines does that. Exposing them to terrific actors also helps. Central Indiana has a very strong acting pool and I love the opportunity to showcase their work for new audiences. We always include information on where these actors can be seen now or in the near future.
The reality is, there are only so many plays that can be given full productions by local companies. I believe there are lots of plays that will never be produced locally since full productions require a belief in their marketability. Would anyone put the resources necessary into a full production of “The Rivalry”? I doubt it. But it makes for a great one-night, script-in-hand event if coordinated with the right core audience.
Okay, so there’s a selfish component at work here, too. I am enamored with play readings. Some of the most satisfying theater experiences I’ve had have been listening to plays performed, script-in-hand. I believe L.A. Theatre Works is one of the most important theater companies in the U.S. and all is does is script-in-hand readings.
I’m pleased to do what I can, in partnership with my co-producer John Thomas and participating organizations, to make these happen.
If you are interested in helping create a SiteLines event–anything from a house concert-style reading or for an auditorium-sized crowd, we hope to hear from you.
We appreciate the initial funding assistance provided by the Arts Council of Indianapolis and we welcome ideas for funding so that we can bring these to more organizations.
Let’s make theater that connects.