Groups hosting outdoor performances, art this summer

Groups hosting outdoor performances, art this summer

PAWTUCKET – As the state moves forward with its reopening plan, several Pawtucket-based organizations are planning on hosting outdoor performances this summer, starting with a show by Mixed Magic Theatre on Aug. 6 at their outdoor amphitheater, 560 Mineral Spring Ave.

“We look forward to feeling the energy of a live audience again,” Artistic Director Jonathan Pitts-Wiley, pictured, told The Valley Breeze.

Details for the first show on Thursday, Aug. 6, are still being worked out, he said. Other shows are Thursday, Aug. 20 - Rise to Black: The Fire This Time; Saturday, Sept. 5 - The Greatness of Gospel XIII: Redemption; Friday, Sept. 25 - Rise to Black: Poets and Players; and Friday, Oct. 16 - Rise to Black: Groove.

Rise to Black is a monthly themed series that showcases Black and Brown artists.

All shows will begin between 7 and 7:30 p.m., around sundown, Pitts-Wiley said. In past years, people were welcome to show up on performance nights but this year they’ll need to purchase tickets in advance so organizers can control the number of folks present.

In a normal year, the amphitheater can hold approximately 300 people, which can’t happen this year because of social distancing guidelines, Pitts-Wiley noted.

For the most up-to-date information and to buy tickets, visit www.mmtri.org .

The shows will be on the smaller side to abide by social distancing guidelines and to keep everyone, including staff, performers, and audience members, safe, Pitts-Wiley said. Performances will generally consist of duos, trios, and quartets, and will be music and movement based.

Though the stage may look spare, which is for everyone’s safety, he said, “When you get the right soloist, duo, trio, quartet up there, they can make thunder like a whole tabernacle choir. … We’re fortunate to be in league with some really talented and wonderful human beings.”

Audiences can expect the same storytelling and energy that they normally would from a Mixed Magic Theatre show, Pitts-Wiley said. “Mixed Magic is going to do its best to be there for people in the way that it has been, and we think people are going to show up for us, so we’re feeling good about that, too.”

All of MMT’s shows are in some way “about celebrating language and literature and cultural realities,” said Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, co-founder of MMT and Jonathan’s father.

Given their location at the Lorraine Mills, he said they’re planning to coordinate with their neighbors, which include Crooked Current Brewery, White Dog Distilling, and Miss Lorraine Diner, so it’s a “total experience” for viewers. “Our goal is to have a great time and keep everyone safe and well,” he said.

“Come to have a good time,” he added. “Have some fresh air. Enjoy the sun and stars.”

Not wanting people to feel that they don’t have an opportunity to see the show, performances will be taped and aired at some point in the future, Jonathan said. “We want to make sure everybody can have an opportunity to take part and enjoy the work.”

Allison Crews, executive director of Burbage Theatre Company, located at 59 Blackstone Ave., told The Breeze last week that the company is finalizing plans to host Shakespeare in the Park at the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater in Pawtucket, starting the first week in September.

Check the group’s Facebook page or www.burbagetheatre.org to stay up-to-date on showtimes.

Both Mixed Magic and Ten31 Productions, which has halted its plans for outdoor performances for the time being, are in talks to take part in an altered Pawtucket Arts Festival, which takes place in September, organizers from those groups said.

Anthony Ambrosino, festival director, said last week that all events that typically draw big crowds, including the Slater Park event, downtown concerts, and Dragon Boat races, will be canceled to abide by social distancing guidelines but that organizers still want to hold arts events in some way.

He said they may make the Pawtucket Film Festival into a drive-in event, and they’ll work with different organizations and galleries on hosting outdoor events.

“We are having something,” he said, noting that they have not yet finalized plans. “The arts are so important.”