Desert Theater Ensemble returns with a new season and an innovative gala

The curtain rises on several innovative initiatives to Desert Ensemble Theater (DET)which has nurtured the growth of creative artists and expanded the art of theater locally for over 10 years now.

To begin with, Chairman of the DET Board of Directors Shawn Abramowitz is excited to navigate the pandemic era with newfound vigor and creativity.

“Our organization was founded on creating new and original works that engage audiences and provoke thought,” he says. “We want to continue to offer pieces that really speak to our community and especially works that are in tune with the times, because that’s what artists do.

While there are a host of exciting initiatives, Abramowitz highlights the work the organization does with intern high school students who receive on-the-job training in technical theater – from design and from lighting design to installing lights and lighting panels, there are a few things to note.

“There aren’t a lot of organizations doing that here,” he says. “We bring that something more from the perspective of a small professional theater company.”

The next series of Desert Ensemble Theater summer readings will take place August 19-26 and September 2-9, 2022 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

Plus, DET’s next season looks promising, with an innovative season-opening gala on October 7 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center and a compelling lineup of works. There’s the world premiere of Jerome Elliott Moskowitz’s “Do Not Remove Label” in December, followed by Aren Haun’s “Kill the Editor” and Rich Rubin’s “Kafka’s Joke.” Eliza Clark’s “Future Thinking” rounds out the season.

“The funding we receive makes a huge difference,” says Abramowitz. “It all matters. This goes towards programming, which ultimately affects our community by providing live arts, but also preparing our intern students for the real world.

Recently, the Desert Ensemble Theater received a grant from Inland Empire Community Foundation through the Donor Advised Fund Sheffer/Scheffler. The funds will help DET with its many programs, but ideally, for its upcoming Summer Reading Series, which will take place August 19-26 and September 2-9 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

“We’ll take new scripts that have never been produced before and provide a free ticket for people to come, listen and give their opinion,” says Abramowitz. “The grant also allows our student interns or potential student interns – and people who have not yet joined our program – to see who we are and participate in theatre. We like to offer this service to the community.

DET works with high school interns who receive on-the-job training in technical theater.

Beyond the series of readings, Abramowitz is eager to publicize the DET gala on October 7. There’s an inventive twist this year – the celebration is dubbed “Singing with the Stars of the Desert” and leans into a competition-like experience with a talented band. At its core, however, the gala is meant to shine a light on DET’s programs and focus on the upcoming season.

“The pandemic has really shut down a lot of sites,” says Abramowitz. “Rental prices for equipment or just normal goods like wood have skyrocketed. As a result, our operating budget has increased. What we could do for several thousand dollars has tripled. So the gala is huge for us because it helps fund our program and keeps us growing.

Interestingly, the organization distributed over $21,000 in scholarships. Abramowitz also hopes to continue on this front and expand the services it currently provides to many schools in the Valley beyond Rancho Mirage High School, Cathedral City High School and Palm Desert High School.

“As we continue to grow, our goal is to provide additional services for children who want to learn more about technical theater,” he says. “Whether they go into technical theater or not, we’re going to give them those opportunities to learn a craft and the discipline they’ll need when they step out into the real world.”

Learn more about the Desert Ensemble Theater at desertensembletheatre.org.

The Inland Empire Community Foundation strives to strengthen the Southern California interior through philanthropy. Learn more at iegives.org.

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