“This was my first play. I would love to see another. I look forward to seeing you’s again one day. Thank you.”
--Inmate, Metropolitan Detention Center (Women)
Join us in sharing the joy of theater
If you believe, as we do, that theater belongs to everybody, then we invite you to help bring free professional theater to audiences who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to see it. Your donation of any amount will go directly toward sharing the joy of theater with audiences in homeless shelters, prisons, low-income senior centers, and community centers in NYC and beyond.
Your donation is tax deductible, thanks to our fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas. Thank you in advance for your generosity--we couldn’t do this work without your support!
("The Glass Menagerie" at a shelter in Queens: Cherie Corinne Rice & Will Shaw)
The Light Fantastic Theater Company, based in Brooklyn, NY, is dedicated to performing imaginative, vibrant productions of classic plays for people who lack access to live theater. We perform for free in homeless shelters, low-income senior centers, correctional facilities, and other nontraditional venues. We perform in cafeterias, meeting rooms, and gymnasiums with live acoustic music and with all the lights on. Using no formal stage, and a minimal set, we perform on the same level as our audiences, who sit in the round. Through the shared act of imagination, we aim to illuminate what unites us, making the joy of theater more available to all.
We are Per Janson, Sylvia Kates, Cherie Corinne Rice, Jedadiah Schultz, and Will Shaw, graduates of the MFA acting programs at Brown/Trinity Rep and the Yale School of Drama.
Our inspiration comes from Minneapolis-based theater company Ten Thousand Things (where Per, our artistic director, has worked), which has spent 26 years developing this model. Their motto says it well: “Because theater is richer when EVERYONE is in the audience.” Too often, theater audiences are mostly upper-middle-class and mostly white. This model recognizes the enormous wealth of insight and life experience that traditionally marginalized audiences bring to the theatrical encounter.
("A View from the Bridge" at a men’s homeless shelter in Brooklyn)
On our first tour, with the help of over 129 donors (including many of you!) we reached seven nontraditional venues throughout NYC with our production of The Glass Menagerie. Our audience members let us know the impact of that support. One woman at a federal prison in Brooklyn wrote: "Thank you for coming to show us this play, many times I forgot I was in prison and got lost in your great acting."
We learned that there is a great appetite for the kind of work we do in NYC. It is the most demanding and most joyful way of making theater we have experienced, and we relish the opportunity to delve into the work more deeply in our current season.
("A View from the Bridge" at a shelter in Queens: Jedadiah Schultz, Bradley Tejeda, and Will Shaw)
Our Current Season
Your donation will help us build on the success of that first tour, as we broaden our reach in our current season:
NYC tour of A View from the Bridge
Last week, we gave the final performance of the first show in our season, a 13-venue NYC tour of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.
The production was a big step forward for us: we reached nearly twice as many venues as on our first tour, and we hired two more artists than on our first tour, offering each artist nearly twice the pay (though we’re still working up to our goal of offering a living wage). We built on our relationships with previous venues and reached out to new ones, who have already expressed an interest in our return. We earned our first competitive grant, from the Brooklyn Arts Council.
("A View from the Bridge" at a senior center in Queens: Daniele Mutino & Robin Galloway. Photo by Jeff Barry.)
And, most importantly, our audiences let us know how much they loved the show:
“First time I really laughed since I was in a shelter.”
--Resident, Beach Residence Shelter
“It made me feel I was on Broadway. The actors were great. This was a show that is lived in homes everywhere (love!).”
--Resident, Atlantic House Men’s Shelter
“As an immigrant I can relate to the play. With what is going on with immigrants in America now this play hits home.”
--Audience member, United Community Centers
“Superb, fantastic, and enjoyable experience. Words cannot explain. In a nut shell I'll give this play 100/100!!”
--Resident, Beach Residence Shelter
“Me gustó mucho porque exactamente así hay muchas personas en esa misma condición.”
--Resident, Serviam Gardens Senior Center
“I have no words. It was beautiful! Felt like I was in the play. Very inspirational.”
--Inmate, Metropolitan Detention Center (Women)
“I totally forgot that I was in a shelter.”
--Resident, Opportunity House Men’s Shelter
“All of you were amazing. Simply amazing. You guys and gals took my breath away.”
--Resident, Park Slope Women’s Shelter
“Words have power. Arthur Miller was a creative genius. He captures a place and time so vividly. Loved it. Took me away from this place for a while.”
--Inmate, Metropolitan Detention Center (Men)
(Will Shaw & Sylvia Kates in "The Glass Menagerie." Photo by Jeff Barry.)
Maine Tour of The Glass Menagerie + National Conference
This July, in conjunction with Opera House Arts in Stonington, Maine (where we previously enjoyed a residency to develop the show), we will tour our first production, The Glass Menagerie, to nontraditional venues throughout Down East Maine.
We are thrilled to collaborate with Opera House Arts and to draw on the experience from our first two tours to share with them this model of reaching audiences they wouldn’t otherwise reach.
Then, in December, thanks to a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, we will take part in a national conference organized by Ten Thousand Things in Minneapolis. Alongside other theaters doing similar work (such as Ten Thousand Things, our dear neighbors The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit, The Old Globe, Baltimore Center Stage, and Delaware Shakespeare Festival), as well as other theaters interested in learning the model, we will share what we have gleaned from our tours and learn from other theaters’ experiences.
(“A View from the Bridge” at a senior center in Queens: Bradley Tejeda, Jedadiah Schultz, and Will Shaw. Photo by Jeff Barry.)
Theater Classes at Federal Prison in Brooklyn
Finally, in this second season, a goal of ours has been to expand our engagement with our community through education. We are delighted to say that due to the popularity of our shows among inmates and guards, the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal prison in Brooklyn, has invited us to begin teaching theater classes to both men and women at the prison this summer. We look forward very much to partnering with them!
(Annie Henk as Alfieri in “A View from the Bridge,” senior center, Queens. Photo by Jeff Barry.)
Where your money will go
Your donation will make our work possible. It will help pay for performance rights, artist stipends (actors, musicians, designers, stage managers, fight director, photographer), insurance, costumes, set, posters, programs, web maintenance, rehearsal space, and transportation to and from our nontraditional venues. You will enable our company to continue to reach audiences who otherwise simply wouldn’t get a chance to see live theater.
Because we don’t have a theater or office space, and because our design is so minimal (we perform with whatever lights are on in our nontraditional spaces and don’t use props), know that the bulk of your donation will directly support the work of the extraordinary artists who give so generously of their time and hearts to do this work.
Donating to the Light Fantastic is an efficient way to share a slice of joy and common humanity with those who can most use it.
(Musician Daniele Mutino’s impromptu duet with audience member at a women’s shelter in Brooklyn)
Thank you very much for your support!
-The Light Fantastic Theater Company
Cherie, Jedadiah, Per, Sylvia, & Will
The Light Fantastic is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of The Light Fantastic must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only. Any contribution above the value of the goods and services received by the donor is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.