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Going Through A Rough Stage At The Public Theater

Jack Morgan
The Public Theater

San Antonio's Public Theater has been reeling since the new coronavirus caused the organization to shut its doors. CEO George Green said tough times are nothing new for the Public Theater, formerly the San Pedro Playhouse.

"This organization has survived two world wars and the Great Depression. It's 108 years old," he said.

Still, he acknowledged these tough times are unlike those.

Credit danscape
George Green

"We're actually still a fairly small nonprofit, and we operate... 60% earned revenue, 40% unearned revenue, meaning donations is the other part of it," he explained.

When the extent of COVID-19 became apparent, Green said the bottom fell out.

"We saw a 90% reduction in revenue on March 12, March 13," he said.

By March 15 rehearsals stopped and productions were suspended until undetermined later dates. Green and the Theater's board decided layoffs and salary reductions were quickly needed, though he declined to go into detail.

"We went with it extremely early on, and I think because we were some of the first to do that locally, it was sort of shocking,” Green said. “But now of course nationally, you look around and I that's just happening everywhere."

He developed a three-tiered effort in the interim for the Public Theater to pay its bills and plan for a return to the stage.

"The board is taking care of a third of our need. We have the Ovation Society, which is about 100 members in these individuals, specifically invest in the theater for its sustainability. And so we've asked a little more of them," he said.

He's hoping the last third of that will come from the general public. When the pandemic plays out the Public Theater is planning to mount the production that was in rehearsal when it all went down.

“Our plan is to make sure that we launch the production of Bright Star. That show was ready to open," he said.

He also plans to produce the spring plays that coronavirus prevented, if it runs its course in the next couple of months.

"It's an interesting and challenging time for sure," he said.

Jack Morgan can be reached at Jack@TPR.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii