The pandemic hasn’t been kind to the performing arts, keeping many theaters from opening their doors for almost a full year. Because of that, arts organizations keep upping the ante with clever and creative ways to keep their communities tied into what they are doing.
“The Voices of Truth Theatre Festival came out of panic, like what am I going to do with my theater now that we have a pandemic in our midst,” explains Fran Powers, Founder of Powerstories Theatre in Tampa. “We were thinking about the needs of communities and the artists from around the country and wanted to offer playwrights, actors, and directors an opportunity to have something creative to work on during this time.”
While Powerstories Theatre is local, an online community knows no bounds. Reaching out to a broader audience, the theatre sent out an international open call for plays to be performed virtually. Partnering with Outcast Theatre Collective, a large number of entries was then whittled down to 16 unique shows -- from both emerging and established playwrights -- all based in truth. Examples include plays about deaf parents raising a hearing child and a young sports talk radio lover dealing with his struggle with an eating disorder.
“True stories open minds and hearts. Last year with the climate [political discourse] in the United States, we came to a unanimous decision that the festival had to be about truth,” Powers says.
Marking the anniversary of the U.S. shutdown due to the pandemic, the festival’s events will be spread out March 10-28. Though the doors may have been closed, Powerstories has spent these past months retrofitting their theater with new technology. Moving forward, Powerstories Theatre will now be able to livestream all of its plays.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this festival. We’ve been Zooming with a playwright in South America; it just brings the world closer to you. These playwrights are having a blast getting creative using Zoom to perform. The audience will be able to see up-close the facial reactions of the actors on this platform,” Powers says. “It’s not the same as sitting in the theater where you feel the intake of breath when the audience sees something on stage, but it’s a way for us to fill our mission. They will really be treated to something special.”
To find out more about the Voices of Truth Theatre Festival, see the upcoming schedule, and get tickets, visit the Powerstories Theatre website