This week marks the kickoff of the annual Philly Theatre Week, and despite the pandemic still surrounding the arts community, there have been some big things brewing for this year. In all, PTW will be in full swing with 64 theaters and arts organizations presenting 72 virtual and in-person events over the 11-day festival starting April 22 until May 2.
When Theatre Week kicks off, Philadelphians can expect to see productions on the local, national and global level ranging from a collection of classics, experimental theatre, low-budget readings, panels, improv, physical theater, workshops, in-depth discussions, local voices and much more.
But there a also few key takeaways from this year’s go-around as well.
For one, for its fourth outing, Philly Theatre Week will have an entirely new audience.
“All eyes of the country can and will be on us as virtual theatre has opened up amazing new opportunities to bring in theatre lovers from across the country – and across the world,” said Theatre Philadelphia’s new Executive Director LaNeshe Miller-White in a statement. “Some of our region’s theaters have been making national and international headlines during the pandemic. Some have perfected the unique and new art of virtual online performance. We are so excited to introduce our world-class theatre scene to these brand new audiences. When the time comes for audiences to come back inside to take their seat, we hope that the lasting impact of virtual theatre will be even more tourists and visitors coming to Philadelphia to fill our houses.”
Secondly, opening night has its own plan for surprises and previews, and everyone can join in on the celebration and kickoff for the event. The curtain on Philly Theatre Week will rise on April 22 at 7 p.m., and the event will be virtual and live, with a pay-what-you-can attendance option to help support the fourth annual Theatre Week and its participants. The evening overall will feature an array of previews for what’s to come for the 11-day festival.
Another fact to key into is the accessibility of the event for everyone is you don’t have to break the bank to indulge in all the creative entrees that Philly’s creative community is serving up. The tickets for every show are now available online, and will be either free, pay-what-you-wish or priced at $15 or $30.
Another noteworthy point regarding this art-filled celebration is the fact that Philadelphians can also make their mark on the theater community in more ways than one in the City of Brotherly Love. While checking out content for PTW, audiences will also have the opportunity to make a donation to Theatre Philadelphia’s Emergency Relief program, designed to provide financial support for theatre workers and artists whose jobs and opportunities were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, enrollment was open to independent artists, organizations, theaters or establishments within a 35-mile radius of Philadelphia’s City Hall, and Philadelphians can have a hand in making an impact throughout the whole region.
Lastly, Philly Theatre Week has a new captain who is steering the ship for the arts community during this time. According to the release, Miller-White started in late summer of 2020 and has hit the ground running. While many assumed Philly Theater Week was on hold for 2021, Miller-White (and her team and board) had other plans.
“For me it wasn’t a question of if we had Philly Theatre Week – it was a question of how, when and how big,” she said. “We really wanted to get our community energized. We set a goal of 40 organizations and we didn’t know what to expect – and we are over the moon to mobilize over 60 groups in just a few short weeks. I am really excited to see theaters buzzing again with activity and I can’t wait to see some of my favorite local faces back performing again.”
Miller-White is a cultural producer, actress, and marketer as well as a graduate of Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater. She believes in using art for social change and is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Theatre in the X, a West Philadelphia-based theater company that produces accessible theater productions for Black audiences and provides opportunities for Black artists. She became the new Executive Director of Theatre Philadelphia in August 2020.
For a full list of performances and for more information on what to expect, visit theatrephiladelphia.org