Alton Little Theater's first agenda for 2021 is a "pay it forward" program, aimed at helping schools and theater and arts organizations get back on their (performing) feet in grand style.
The oldest theater in Illinois has weathered the pandemic’s financial challenges with the support of "guardian angels." While the theater has learned to work in creative ways to develop productions with a restart goal in mid-March, it also wants to help other organizations regain their ability to develop cultural enrichment programs. ALT has offered space for streaming services and a local production company will be utilizing that offer Jan. 9. Executive Director Lee Cox and Artistic Director Kevin Frakes are also organizing opportunities for young performers to safely gather at the showplace and talk about their struggles with isolation and lack of performance opportunities. The informal free support group will meet at 7 p.m. Thursdays beginning Jan. 7.
The theater is also looking for storage space to house the vast amount of furniture, props and costumes the theater group has collected and organized during the last nine months. Lee Cox states the theater wanted to make sure the group would have at least a dozen shows "ready to go" once state mitigations are lifted — and in doing so, Kevin Frakes purchased a trailer and made plans to greatly expand the theater's storage space so other organizations could receive help with items for their productions. The St. Louis Rep Theater Rentals in south St. Louis has been a role model for ALT. The plan is that ALT will not only anchor arts and cultural opportunities in the Riverbend but will also be a resource for mounting a production.
ALT has profited from a director-internship program and hopes in the near future to do more partnering with local high schools.
"The talented youth in the area are the future for all of us," Frakes said.
The big dream ALT has, to build a state-of-the-art performing arts center, is still on the table in a few years. Meanwhile, productions will resume at the showplace in mid-March and small houses will enjoy a new production every 4-6 weeks at modest prices. ALT's goal is to enrich and give back to the community that has supported the theater group for nearly 88 years without any state funding.
For more information, call (618) 462-3205.