We had the good fortune of connecting with Live Theatre Workshop and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Live Theatre Workshop, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As an organization in Tucson’s non-profit theatre community, risk has played an important role in our growth, and it is always a factor in our decisions around programming. One of our core values states, “We believe theatre has the power to improve the quality of life, and to transform children, adults, families, and communities.” Keeping our finger on the pulse of the needs and desires of our community is crucial to our work. In 2019, we made the decision to lay the groundwork to make it possible for us to move into a larger building with the primary goal of making a greater impact on our community through expanded programming and education opportunities. This choice, especially with the pandemic unknowingly around the corner, has been one of our greatest financial risks since our founding in 1997. However, as we had outgrown our one theatre space on Speedway, the only way forward was to expand, and we are confident that this risk was crucial to take. When the pandemic occurred, we utilized the new space in ways that we hadn’t anticipated, such as hosting a full season of theatre and classes in our parking lot and courtyard, and we’ve now adapted our plan to continue using these outdoor spots in versatile ways. Also, in the new space we have already hosted nearly double the amount of education classes and camps for youth, and we’re about to conclude our second season of programming. We have a rich future ahead of us on Ft Lowell, and we look forward to sharing our success with the community.
Also included in our core values is this statement: “Theatre reflects the community in which it is created, and provides a platform for diverse perspectives. It tells stories that humanize, challenge assumptions, push boundaries, and encourage people to think and grow.” At Live Theatre Workshop we do all we can to stay true to this value, and in our Etectera series, pushing boundaries and encouraging people to grow is what drives our programming decisions. Our upcoming production of Fremont Junior High Is Not Doing Oklahoma features some main characters who identify as non-binary and LGBTQIA+, and this story explores their journeys and viewpoints as they navigate the well-established heightened drama unique to the high school experience. While portraying characters and stories outside of the mainstream is a risk, it’s a risk that is absolutely necessary to take, as we urge our audiences to push forward into cultural spaces that are new to some.
To ensure that all Tucsonans have a chance to experience live theatre, Live Theatre Workshop has some of the lowest ticket prices in town and offers hundreds of free tickets to organizations and schools across the city. We do this because if we want theatre to thrive in our city, it needs to be accessible to all people. Live Theatre Workshop takes programming and financial risks so that the students, families, and adults we serve become the artists, patrons, donors, and volunteers for all theatres in Tucson. We believe these risks foster an environment in which the Tucson theatre community has the opportunities needed to thrive and ensure a long, rich future for generations to come.
What should our readers know about your business?
Live Theatre Workshop is a unique and special theatre. The artists, staff, board, and volunteers come together to create performances and theatre education because we love what we do, and because we want to bring the best theatre to Tucson. We believe that Tucson deserves a thriving theatre scene that is accessible to all who want to participate.
The Mainstage is graced with award-winning artists and up-and-coming talent who create dynamic theatre that makes us laugh, cry, and think—sometimes all at the same time. These shows are attended by more than 20,000 people a year. To ensure that all Tucsonans have a chance to experience live theatre, we have some of the lowest ticket prices in town and offer hundreds of free tickets to organizations and schools across the city.
Our Theatre Education Program is a safe place for diverse groups of students to express their creativity, learn teamwork, and gain self-confidence and skills that prepare them to be innovative and well-rounded adults. Each year, 600 kids participate in a variety of beginning to advanced performance classes and summer camps.
With the help of outstanding funders, these classes are brought to children who have limited access to theatre education. More than 20 schools are connected to the LTW education program, and $11,000 in scholarships are awarded each year. The program was recognized by the Tucson Pima Arts Council as the Best Arts Education Program in Tucson in 2013 and nominated for a Governor’s Arts Award in 2015.
Our Children’s Theatre program deepens our connection to kids and families by offering interactive musical theatre performances at Live Theatre Workshop and in more than 15 schools across the city. These performances have become a tradition for Tucson families and schools.
ETCETERA Late-Night shows explore avant-garde and new styles of theatre. Original and community-derived works feature local actors and other artists in this unique program. ETCETERA works closely with UA students, high school theatre programs, and cultural organizations to produce an eclectic mix of theatre and music that is relevant to our community.
All of our programs work together year-round to entertain theatre lovers, educate and train theatre artists, and foster a love for the arts. Because art has the power to transform people and communities, LTW uses the performing arts to make a difference and pass on a passion for theatre to the next generation.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Some of our favorite local organizations include fellow theatre spots The Rogue Theatre, Scamp & Scoundrel, and Arts Express. Our favorite eateries include The Little One, Raging Sage, Le Buzz, and Beyond Bread.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Connie Hillman Family Foundation! They were the primary donor for our capital campaign and provided a matching grant that inspired our donor base.
These are from recent productions: Oso Fuerte Dry Powder Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree (opens Dec. 3) Mother Goose Unplucked- by our Mini Players (3-5th Graders)