Written by Patrick Chavis
Taken from Modjeska Playhouse Newsletter:
It’s been a while. We hope this message finds you safe and well. We’ve missed seeing your faces and entertaining all of you.
As you can imagine, this pandemic did a number on all of us at Modjeska Playhouse. We were in the middle of our run of Murder at Modjeska Manor in March 2020 when state and federal governments across the country mandated all live theater venues be shut down to combat the coronavirus.
Unfortunately, “Two weeks to stop the spread” turned into 18 months (and counting) of being completely dark and unable to conduct our normal theater operations.
Because we’ve been prohibited from producing live theater or holding in-person classes the last year and a half (our only forms of revenue), Modjeska Playhouse has incurred and is being held liable for more than $75,000 in back rent plus the cost of moving out – an exorbitant amount that we simply cannot cover on our own.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve applied for several grants and disaster relief programs. But because we have an all-volunteer staff (with occasional freelance contractors), we didn’t qualify for most of them.
Our current lease expires this year at the end of August. Even though we have always been good tenants, and the 18-month shutdown was no fault of ours, our landlord is unwilling to work with us and made it clear they will not extend Modjeska Playhouse’s lease unless we immediately pay our past due rent, have our next lease paid in advance by an investor, and accept a 12% rent increase.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation, these demands far exceed our abilities.
Due to these unreasonable demands, we’ve been forced to close our current space and are humbly asking for your financial support to help keep our theater company operating. We never made a lot of money, but we were never in debt until now.
Having our own theater had been our dream since our high school days at Trabuco Hills. We feel lucky that we were able to live that dream, even with its untimely end. You all saw firsthand the hard work we put into making our theater a fun and welcome environment for performers and audiences. We were planning on being in that space for many years.
We’re proud of the work we have produced and the stories we have told. We’ve made many friends, from cast members all the way to you, our patrons. Many of you have supported us from our first show in the space (The 39 Steps). Some of you have been with us even before we had our theater. (Remember the shows in the park?) For that, we sincerely thank you. We will miss seeing you in the lobby before shows, hearing your reactions during shows, and spending a moment with you after shows. We won’t miss cleaning up the popcorn, though.
So, what’s next for Modjeska Playhouse? That’s a good question. While the current space is now closed, Modjeska Playhouse plans on continuing to operate as a theater company, just without a permanent home for the time being.
Modjeska Unscripted (our company improv group) intends to continue producing improvised plays at other venues soon. As for scripted works, we’re looking to produce shows outdoors or in a touring capacity. We also look forward to
bringing back our popular Unscripted Improv classes.
Of course, all of this is contingent on us getting out of this financial mess that’s been forced upon us.
If you’d like to help us, there are two ways you can do it:
2. OPEN HOUSE THEATER SALE THIS WEEKEND: This weekend (Aug 21-22, 10a-3p) we’re having an Open House Theater Sale at Modjeska Playhouse (21084 Bake Parkway, Suite 104, Lake Forest, CA 92630) where we’ll be selling pretty much anything and everything that was in our space, including an antique piano, our beautiful lobby bar made of reclaimed wood, our stage lights, and plenty of bookshelves, furniture, mirrors, and random props. We’re selling everything at prices to move.
From opening our doors with The 39 Steps in April 2015 to being voted “Best Theatre/Playhouse” by OC Weekly in 2019, we’ve had an amazing journey. With the help of your tax-deductible donations, you can help our theater company get back on its feet and continue to produce quality theater productions for our South Orange County community.
For up-to-date info, please visit mphstage.org.
We cannot thank you enough for your support.
Christopher Sullivan, Joshua Stecker, and Joseph Alanes
Co-Artistic Directors, Modjeska Playhouse”
Modjeska Playhouse has been putting on shows since 2014 at the Lake Forest location on Bake. I’ve been reviewing the plays at the Modjeska Playhouse since 2015. This theater company has produced some beautiful shows in an area with a meager theater presence in a short amount of time. Whether you were lucky enough to attend a live performance or just read one of our reviews on OCR. I’ll list a few reviews below. Without a doubt, the shows acting-wise and production-wise were increasing as they began to update the space. It’s so sad to see them leave the space as I learned about the hardships it took to get the space up and running. You can read the article at this link. Theatre done on a small scale with such quality is so important, and without community support, it can’t continue. If you have the funds, please help support the Modjeska Playhouse, and I hope they will be back up and running one day supporting theatre in the Lake Forest Area.