For PLA Librarians Visiting Indianapolis Who Also Love Live Theatre and Storytelling

Whenever I go to a Public Library Association conference (or American Library Association conference or Young Adult Library Services Association conference or any conference, for that matter) in another city, I try to set aside some time and money to check out the local theatre scene.

Multiple conferences in Washington, DC, for example, gave me wonderful experiences at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, the Studio Theatre, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company. In Denver I fell in love with the Curious Theatre Company and also enjoyed a show at the Garner Galleria Theatre.  In Philadelphia and Chicago…well, the show I wanted to see at Philly’s Walnut Street Theatre turned out to be sold out the night I was there, and let’s just say I was disappointed by the one show I saw in Chicago.  But I’ll get to those cities again some day because there are only a few cities that are able to handle hordes of librarians and anyway, that’s just the way it goes sometimes.  Life is an adventure and anything can happen with live theatre.

This week the Public Library Association’s biennial conference is going to be in my area – Indianapolis, Indiana – for the first time.  I’ve been thinking about what I would want a local to tell me about the theatre scene here this week, especially the scene relatively close to the Indianapolis Convention Center, if I were me but visiting from out-of-town.

I am delighted to report that this is a particularly excellent week for theatre-goers in downtown Indianapolis, especially theatre-goers on a budget.

Here are my recommendations, night by night during the PLA conference:

Tuesday, March 12, 2014

Storytelling Arts of Indiana is hosting its monthly “Jabberwocky” event at the Indy Fringe Theatre tonight.  This free event is Indy’s version of the “Moth” storytelling events that you may have listened to on National Public Radio.  Doors open at 5:30 for free appetizers and cash bar; telling begins at 6pm.  After the featured tellers there is an open mike time.  More info about this month’s theme:

The Indy Fringe Theatre is a renovated church on St. Clair Street but it is considered to be in our theatre district in the Massachusetts Avenue (“Mass Av”) area –  a short taxi ride from the Convention Center.

Wednesday, March 13, 2014

“Other Desert Cities” by Jon Robin Baitz has its first public preview performance at the Indiana Repertory Theatre tonight.  The IRT is our fancy regional theatre: when the show officially opens this Friday, there will people in the audience wearing mink coats and talking about how much they adore the thee-a-tuh.  The building is gorgeous and imposing, too, especially inside, but ordinary folks are always warmly welcomed.  (And teasing aside, I appreciate the mink coat people for their hefty donations to the arts!)

Discount performances include 6:30pm on Wednesday, March 12 and 7:30pm on Thursday, March 13.  For more information about this show:

The IRT is a short-ish walk from the Convention Center but I’d splurge for a taxi because it will be cold and dark by the time you’re ready to leave the theatre. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

“I and You” by Lauren Gunderson opens at the Phoenix Theatre.  This is a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere.  Like the IRT, the Phoenix uses professional performers and designers but takes more risks with the material it chooses to produce and therefore has a scrappier, “off-Broadway” feel to it.

The first weekend of every Phoenix run is “Cheap Seats Weekend.”  Tickets for the show this weekend are $18 instead of $28.  More information about this show is here:

The Phoenix Theatre is a renovated church on Park Avenue but it is considered to be in our theatre district in the Massachusetts Avenue (“Mass Av”) area – a short taxi ride from the Convention Center.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Take a power nap but set your alarm to go to the Gal Pal Comedy Fest at Comedy Sportz at 10 o’clock tonight.  Every Friday in March, this comedy series highlights the talents of several local female comics.  Last Friday I had SO MUCH FUN at this!  It was a mix of stand-up, improv games, long-form comedy, and “free skate” (where audience members could get up on stage and play, too.)  The line-up is different every week but each week some of the proceeds go to the Julian Center.

Actually, it would be fun to go to the regular, very family-friendly and squeaky-clean but very funny Comedy Sportz improv “match” at 7:30pm and then stick around for the 10pm Gal Pal.  Gal Pal is not an official CSz show so there may be some curse words or more mature content.

I loved this interview in Nuvo (our weekly alternative newspaper) by Scott Shoger of Claire Wilcher, one of GalPal’s founders:

Comedy Sportz is in our theatre district, right on Massachusetts Avenue (“Mass Av”) – a short taxi ride from the Convention Center.

Saturday, March 15:

Acting Up Productions’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams opens Friday, March 14.  “Streetcar” is on my theatre bucket list so I was delighted when I heard it was part of this season’s offerings from AUP.  AUP is a relatively new company that uses professional artists to produce high quality work in a variety of venues.  This particular show will be at the Indy Fringe Theatre (the same place the storytelling event was on Tuesday night.)

Here is a direct link to more information about this show and the people putting it on:

A note about our bus system:  I usually try to figure out the local transportation system when I go to conferences in other cities.  I lived in Tokyo, Japan for five years so I know what it’s like to have trains that go everywhere, frequently and on time.  I confess I have not used our bus system since it frustrated me in the early 1980s and now I live so far north that it doesn’t even come close to my home.  I drive or walk everywhere.  However, I do usually try to figure out the local public transportation system when I go to conferences elsewhere, so I’ll tell you that there is a little advice on how to take the bus to the Indy Fringe Theatre at the bottom of this page:  If you can get to Indy Fringe, you will also be within walking distance of the Phoenix and ComedySportz.  A quick glance at the IndyGo (bus) website makes me think it might be worth checking out for other destinations, too.

Update 3/12/14: At yesterday’s preconference on Digital Content, presenter Kevin King mentioned that he uses a car service called Uber wherever he can.  “I’m glad to see that Indy has it, too!” he said.  “You download the free app to your smartphone and sign up with your credit card.  Then, when you need a ride, you tap in your location and destination.  Uber will tell you what kind of car to expect and how much it will cost.  The tip is included so no money changes hands.  It’s faster than calling a taxi.  When I was in Philadelphia I used it all the time.  It’s mostly just available in larger cities.”

On my Facebook last night, local productivity consultant Robby Slaughter asked as his question of the day, “Have you tried one of the new ride services like Lyft or Uber?”  Maybe he saw me tweeting about it or maybe it was just a coincidence.  In any case, ten people made positive comments, including: “Love Uber!” and “Have used Uber several times. A great service!”

(The one comment about Lyft was negative but the person hadn’t actually used the service herself, only heard stories from a friend, and that was in another city.)

So I’m updating this blog post to include Uber as another transportation option for conference-goers.

A note about going solo to theatre shows:  I do it all the time.  Yes, I have friends, but there are 50+ theatre companies in the Indianapolis area.  If I only went to the theatre when my friends and I all had the same openings in our busy schedules, I would miss a lot of exquisite, ephemeral performance art.  So if your PLA roommate wants to explore local theatre with you, great, but if not, please take a chance and go out on your own.

You probably already know that you should put your conference badge away whenever you leave the Convention Center and leave your conference bag in your hotel room.

There are several other good options for lovers of performance art in the Indianapolis area this week.  Whatever you choose to do with your free time, I wish you the best of experiences while you’re visiting Indianapolis!

‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh –

(See also Twitter:  I tweet about theatre as @IndyTheatre.  I tweet about library conferences as @HopeBaugh.)

© 2014 Hope Baugh

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