Great things can happen when given the space and encouragement to create. The Whitefire Theatre has given artists this platform since 2012 with their annual Solofest. The Whitefire Team has created a new solo series, Black Voices, slated for September 12 – November 19. If you have a solo show, you can submit it for consideration for Black Voices 2020.
We chatted with Bryan Rasmussen of Whitefire Theatre to get more information on the Black Voices solo show series.
What made you decide to do the Black Voices series?
The Whitefire Theatre has always been very diverse working with many BIPOC artists in Los Angeles but with the recent events I felt compelled to take it a step further. We already host the second largest solo theatre festival in the United States but I wanted to reach out and bring even more Black artists into the fold. After some research amazingly I found that there are very few, if any, Black solo theatre festivals so hopefully this will be the first of many!
How has Covid19 affected SoloFest and your season?
We were near the end of our Solofest doing 80 shows in 90 days. With only about 10 more to go we had to close because of the Covid virus. But we had already been working on live streaming live theater for many years. We did our first live stream back in 2011 for the play Firehouse by Pedro Garcia that is about racial tensions in a Bronx firehouse and we live-streamed that but of course it had a whole lot more equipment, cable etc…and the cost was prohibitive. So over the years we kept developing more and more of it and finally with recent technology we were able to live-stream 40 of our Solofest shows this year. So we were ready to go with our platform immediately as soon as they were able to relax the stay at home mandate. I believe very strongly in this technology and that it gives us the chance to expose Solo Theatre to a world wide audience and so the quarantine just pushed this technology into the forefront. And because we have no idea when theatre audiences are coming back into to the theatre we are presenting solo shows exclusively for the next year!
Are you looking for particular shows?
We are looking for professional Solo theatre from Black artists. Juliette Jeffers is curating the festival and she’s a prominent black solo artist herself and is reaching out to the community.
What are the requirements and what advice can you give to folks interested in submitting their show?
I think it’s very important to of already performed their solo shows in front of a live audience because of the technology of the live stream it’s very challenging to switch formats. So it makes it a little bit less stressful if they’ve already done their shows. A small deposit is required to secure a date and the rest of the costs then come out of their box office.
Anything you’d like to highlight?
We believe that the solo theatre genre is now the purest form of storytelling in theatre. It deals with issues and subject matter that film and television have not quite been able to yet. It used to be more of a vanity type of showcase for actors but now it’s shifted into a much more important and powerful tool that is ideal for live streaming and camera.
I’ve always wanted to create a revenue stream to support Theatre and I think this could be it. Theatre has always been regarded differently than film and television because of the budget and pay rates. Being a solo artist myself I know the difficulties of mounting and producing a solo show. So when I got the Whitefire I wanted to create a safe harbor for solo artists to develop their work and present it. But I think with this we can possibly even the score and make it just as important of work for Actors to do and to get paid for! I also want to thank you guys at NoHo Arts District.com Samantha, Nancy and Lisa have all been extremely supportive of our theatre and we so appreciate that!
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