The Open Door Playhouse – New Plays, New Writers, New Talent

The Open Door Playhouse is a podcast bringing new plays to the public as audio performances.

This is such a brilliant idea! It’s so tough for those of us avid theatre goers right now. No live theatre, no live performances anywhere. I’ve seen everything on Netflix and beyond and am sick of the news. Obviously. So these kinds of intrepid productions, full of new life and brave and fascinating stories are like mana from heaven.

Bernadette Armstrong

The Open Door Playhouse podcast is in its second month and fully intends to keep on going for as long as there are new artists to support and new plays to produce.

But we wanted to know a little more about everyone involved and why they felt compelled to create this space for playrights to perform their plays during the pandemic. So we asked Bernadette Armstrong, the force behind it all.

What was the inspiration for the podcast and how did you put the team together?

When my play I was canceled in April 2020 due to the COVID pandemic I was really bummed. So, I just started looking around and couldn’t find an outlet until I remembered listening to radio pPlays while doing my research for my play “Joan,” based on Joan Crawford and went from there. I figured I wasn’t the only playwright without agency that had their play canceled this year so I opened up submissions to everyone in my advertising.

Goreti da Silva standing next to Elaine Mello-Clark at mic

At first it was just me – applying for the fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas, finding the name for the podcast, finding the platform, etc. and rehearsing “Custody.” And then I became a bit overwhelmed so I posted an ad for a producer and fortunately Laree Griffith applied and that has been a godsend! She’s organized, she helps with the website, she schedules and helps with promoting and keeping things going. And right now, it’s just her and me.

Is there any thematic link between the plays, or was that at all important?

Actually, I opened the door to all genres and topics: LGBTQ+, Black Lives Matter and senior citizens and any and all social issues. We received so many plays from the LGBTQ+ community that we were able to build programing to celebrate COMING OUT DAY in October, mixed in with a couple BLM plays. Most of our content has been centered around the LGBTQ+ – and senior citizens – which I love because there are so few roles in theater for wonderful, older actors!  Most of the plays are comedies, but all of them have heart. Just a very sweet range of plays.

How do you see the theatre community right now in Los Angeles?

Being CREATIVE! Every time I see ads for new plays with creative ways to present them to the public – making do with the situation we are all facing. It’s very cool, however I do hope to see live theater on stage again. Sometime in the near future. But until then, writers and actors are finding new ways and how can you beat that?

Matthew Scott Montgomery 

With all theatre on hold, is there anything positive to come from this?

Bernadette: See above – creativity can’t be stopped.

Laree, The Open Door Playhouse producer:  There are a lot of positive things that have come from this. This podcast is one of them! I believe that all artists have had to make tough decisions and reinvent themselves during this crisis in order to keep their dreams, career and enthusiasm for their craft alive. That’s not a bad thing. We have always had the choice to reinvent, think outside the box and create in new and different ways. This crisis has, in a way, been a real game-changer for creatives.

How can we help support local theatre?

Don’t forget it’s not free to those who produce the work. Our time, our energy and patience, it all still costs and many of us are not working due to COVID-19. Don’t forget to donate to the projects. Help out. Like for my podcast, it costs money to record them (yes, I knew this from the start). I believe in the quality of my productions. I pay everyone  because it’s the right thing to do. And without a theater to sell tickets, most of us have lost our way to create revenue. I have a donate button on the podcast and the funds I raise pay for the sound studio and the actors. And my donate button is – to me – like a ticket sale. Push the button, donate, and you have purchased a ticket for an entire range of plays. They will always be there to download and listen to. I think that’s a good deal (and funds are tax deductible!). It’s kind of like Direct to PPV.

Open-Door Playhouse, is a theater podcast that never closes.

Daamen Krall

What are your plans for the future, artistically?

I would love to keep writing plays, keep directing plays and, when the yheaters open up again, build a set and enjoy the sound of a live audience. Until then I’ll listen to them on the podcast – like old time radio.

Thanks, Bernadette and Laree. So far the plays have been absolutely brilliant! We look forward to much more from you all and thank you from saving me from the telly and giving so many playwrights and actors a valuable forum for their work!!

You can check out every play that they have broadcast so far. New plays arriving on November 25 and contribute if you can!!

Twitter is: @opendoorplayhouse

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