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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

After devastating loss, shows to go on at Fonseca Theater

Bryan Fonseca died of complications related to COVID-19, a heartbreaking loss to those who loved him and his work.

INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly six months ago, the Indianapolis arts community lost a pioneer in contemporary theater. 

Bryan Fonseca died of complications related to COVID-19, a heartbreaking loss to those who loved him and his work.

But Fonseca’s vision for the theater he founded three years ago will live on with plans for live performances resuming this spring.

"Personally, I'm feeling so much energy and potential for the next chapter for the organization and I can't wait to open the doors again," said interim director Jordan Schwartz.

The Fonseca Theater Company on the city's near-west side was forced to close last year because of the pandemic. Plans are now in the works to reopen in May for the first of four shows, all staged in the large lot directly behind the theater.

Schwartz was a Fonseca protege.

"I know I will always carry with me what I learned from him from our conversations, our projects together, our collaborations."

Fonseca, who founded and led the Phoenix Theater off Massachusetts Avenue for more than 35 years, was known for bringing fresh and provocative works to Indianapolis. When the Phoenix moved into a new building, Fonseca moved to the Haughville neighborhood. His goal was to celebrate and give voice to diverse communities while tackling the challenging issues of injustice and inequality.

In July, several months after the pandemic hit, Fonseca showed 13News how he planned to stage one-act shows outside, limiting capacity, maintaining six feet between seats, requiring masks and following stringent cleaning protocols.

Schwartz said they plan to follow suit, having "revisited and refined the safety plan" for this summer's performances.

Plans call for staging four new shows, all sharing a message of hope.

"We're looking at scripts that highlight joy, highlight conviction and a path forward," Schwartz said. They're messages of hope that tie into Fonseca's long-term plans for the theater. He envisioned the unused indoor space adjacent to the theater as a community center, with a meeting area and coffee shop.

A legacy fund in his memory seeks to raise the $500,000 needed to make that dream a reality.

In the meantime, Schwartz is eager to see the shows go on... even if held outside.

"We're just really excited to get back to work," she said. "There's really something uniquely powerful about a live experience."

Click here for more information on the upcoming shows.  

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