The Lawrence Fort theater proves that the show goes on.
Live theater returned to the Theater at the Fort this month, with “The Laramie Project” being the first theater production in over two years. “The Laramie Project” took place from October 1 to 10.
First of all, the theater was closed for renovation. Then it remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theater closed in 2019 after its parent organization, Arts for Lawrence, received a $ 5.8 million grant from the Lilly Endowment’s “Strengthening Indianapolis Through Artistic and Cultural Innovation” initiative. Grant money was used to establish a cultural campus with an amphitheater and move a redeveloped Fort Harrison communications building to the campus to be used for visual arts programming and gallery space. Renovations were also carried out at the theater.
The theater reopened in January 2020 and featured swing dancing, then closed again due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Programming resumed in June of this year, but live theater only returned this month.
“When we closed for construction in the summer of 2019, I didn’t anticipate that the theater would remain closed for two very quiet years. It’s surprisingly invigorating to have an audience again, turn down the house lights, turn up the stage lights and immerse yourself in the stories the actors tell on stage, ”said Judy Byron, Executive Director from Arts for Lawrence. “There is nothing quite like live theater, and we are so proud to offer quality programming in the recently renovated historic theater.”
The theater’s first foray into live theater is “very heavy,” according to program director Jay Hemphill.
“‘Project Laramie “is about Matthew Shepherd and his murder in October 1998,” Hemphill said. “It focuses on hate crimes, language and descriptions of torture, so it’s a heavy show, but we thought we should do it as we try to expand our offerings here.”
“Queens at the Fort: A Drag Show” was on October 15th. The show was hosted by Heather Bea, the local drag diva, and featured drag artists from Indianapolis. Upcoming shows include “Macbeth,” which will be presented in cooperation with Bard Fest and the Agape Theater Company. “Macbeth” is October 22-30. Tickets are $ 25 for general admission and $ 20 for seniors, students, and military personnel. After “Macbeth” is “Elizabeth Rex”, which is a play that begins with the meeting between Queen Elizabeth I and one of the actors of Shakespeare’s troupe. “Elizabeth Rex” runs November 5-14. Tickets are $ 25 for general admission and $ 20 for seniors, students, and military personnel.
Then, Circle City Tap will return with its IndyFringe production, “ONE US”. The performance presents themes of equality, acceptance and unity through dance, poetry and literature. “ONE US” runs from November 20 to 21. Tickets cost $ 25 for general admission and $ 20 for seniors, students, and military personnel.
To celebrate the holidays, the “Peewinkle’s Christmas Puppet Show” will be presented at the Théâtre du Fort on December 4th. The show is designed for the whole family and features holiday puppets, music and audience participation. There will be two performances. Tickets cost $ 15 for general admission, $ 10 for seniors, students, and military. Children 2 and under are free.
Hemphill hopes the theater will cause a stir when it reopens.
“We want our programming to reflect our community,” Hemphill said. “We’re a very diverse community here in Lawrence, so we need to have that represented on our stages. “
Hemphill said the theater offers a “mix of music” during its summer concert series, so there’s something for everyone. It also offered a cultural festival on October 9 and partnered with local schools for a Día De Los Muertos event on the cultural campus. There was a jubilee of the tenth of June in June.
“I want the stage to reflect my audience, and I want my audience to reflect my community,” Hemphill said. “When you have this goal in mind, you know exactly what you need to do and find partners to fulfill this duty. “
To learn more, visit artsforlawrence.org.
Unite with the city
In addition to live theater, Theater at the Fort also offers free screenings of popular films. An upcoming film is “It’s a Wonderful Life” on November 27 in conjunction with the city’s annual holiday event, A Lawrence Christmas.
“’It’s a Wonderful Life’ coincides with A Lawrence Christmas, which is the Lawrence parade that takes place here,” said Jay Hemphill, program director of the Theater at the Fort. “This is their kickoff for the holidays. So people can go there and watch the movie at night.
The film is a free screening and will feature live singers.