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ArlingtonInclusive-theater troupe hopes show will go on ... in person

Inclusive-theater troupe hopes show will go on … in person

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“The show must go on” has been the approach taken by ArtStream since the onset of the pandemic, even if it didn’t always go on the way it had in the past.

But with a little luck on the public-health front, the troupe – which highlights the talents of individuals dealing with developmental disabilities – will be able to bring back a degree of normalcy to its efforts in coming months.

The organization has announced plans for springtime in-person theatrical productions at Synetic Theater in Crystal City, as well as an in-person cabaret production and a number of online shows.

“With the new year comes a sense of renewal, an opportunity to move forward with positivity and purpose,” the organization said in announcing its planned schedule.


“While the world is trying to heal from the pandemic, ArtStreamers are busy being their best selves and welcoming new challenges,” the organization added.

Since 2007, ArtStream has presented more than 300 performances. In Northern Virginia, its shows have taken place at Gunston Arts Center in Arlington and, more recently, the Nannie Lee Center in Alexandria, with Signature Theatre serving as a previous home for its cabaret series.

In March 2020, the troupe was gearing up for its planned Northern Virginia springtime productions (“Song of the Rainbow Warrior” and “Ships Away”), only to see COVID roar in and shut down not just the performing arts, but much of normal life.

When it became clear that COVID was operating on its own terms and might not be departing on any fast-track schedule, the organization pivoted in late 2020 and began preparing a pair of shows – “The Haunting at Rosecliff Manor” and “One Small Step” – that were filmed and then presented both in a “drive-in” format in Alexandria and online in the spring of 2021.

Like all ArtStream productions, the shows were conceived, developed and staged with significant input from the actors. The focus often is on humor and mystery, or a combination of the two.

In last year’s “The Haunting at Rosecliff Manor,” for instance, a group of snooty rich folks descend on a mansion they have inherited from their equally rich relatives. On the wall stand portraits of those long-gone family members that are not only valuable, but had very special secret – they came to life.

The show was directed by Elizabeth Cronin, with Leah Kocsis serving as composer and choreographer. It included a number of ArtStream veterans, who had performed in past shows, assisted by mentors who lent their hand in different roles.

Performers said they were glad that the show did go on, albeit in a new kind of format. The 2021 shows saw participants filming their roles mostly from their homes, with their performances then edited together with special effects added.

“It was a different experience,” acknowledged Suzan Basoglu, who portrayed the ritzy Myrtle Wentworth in “Rosecliff Manor.”

“It was fun, but nothing like performing together in the same place,” she said. “I missed everybody.”

Hopefully, the 2022 productions will allow for the in-person interaction among cast and audience that has now been missing since 2019.

While forced into new ways of doing things, ArtStream remained active: 1,600 participants took part in 850 classes and workshops in 2021, while six original productions and four cabaret shows were performed.

“Our beloved ArtStream community of performers learned to adapt, improvise and overcome endless new life developments onstage and online,” the organization noted.

Currently planned for coming months:

• In-person performances by the Northern Virginia inclusive-theater troupe are slated for March 25 to April 2 at Synetic Theater, with an online performance planned for April 14.

• Cabaret performances are slated for Jan. 28 (fall troupe) and May 23 (spring troupe) online, with an in-person performance slated for April 25 at Synetic.

For updates and information, see the Website at www.art-stream.org.

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