“One of the things that is very important to us at Trinity Street Players… [is] to build community amongst artists in Austin,” says Trinity Street Players artistic director Ann Zárate. So when the theater closed its doors in March, Zárate started looking for new and different ways to keep the Trinity Street community connected.
“We reached out to all of our alumni for two reasons,” Zárate says. “One, to see if they would be willing to participate virtually in reading monologues or doing script readings [or] reading poetry online. And two, to see what artwork they had been creating on their own and invite them to share those submissions with us.”
Zárate says the response has been very positive, and Trinity Street performers and alumni are now sharing original poetry, performing songs and monologues, and creating short plays to be recorded and performed online. After dusting off their old and underused youtube account, Trinity Street has started posting new content daily under the banner Performing in PJs: Making Art In The Time of Coronavirus.
“I am very excited about this because we get to see our local actors in their own homes, in their environment, sometimes even in their PJs, sharing stories of hope or sharing great pieces of literature that we might not otherwise be familiar with,” Zárate says. “It’s time to start getting creative about how to stay hopeful and how to keep people engaged and how to build community and how to move forward as one group during this very isolated time.”
Zárate says she’s found some silver linings to these unusual times, too. “One thing that’s been pretty cool that’s come out of this time is that several of the [live theater] venues are gathering [virtually] once a week just to talk and check in with each other and see what everybody else is doing… how are we handling rent, can we collaborate as a group?”
Zárate says with a laugh that she feels closer to other theater directors now than when everyone was still open for business. “You know, Austin is pretty cool in that there a lot of us who really want to foster a culture of collaboration and not a culture of competition. And so the coronavirus has really united us in that way," she says. "The arts have all kind of had the wind knocked out of them, so to speak. And it will be, for sure, a different world on the other side of this. And really the only way we can get through it is by sticking together and collaborating and speaking up for one another and moving forward in the best way that we can.”
Performing in PJs: Making Art In The Time of Coronavirus is updated daily on Trinity Street's youtube page.