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Off Night Stories: Bloomington women-led theater company premiers Winter Holidays on Dec. 10

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This December, celebrate the holiday season by visiting the theater for a night of winter fun.  

"Off Night Stories: Winter Holidays” is the latest project by Bloomington’s women-led theater company, Off Night Productions. This is the first installment in a series of live storytelling shows, comprised of true stories performed on stage by local actors. The stories are all about the holiday season and range from hilarious to heartwarming. The production runs at 2 p.m.  Dec. 10 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12 at the Whikehart Auditorium at the John Waldron Arts Center.  

Off Night Productions is helmed by Aubrey Seader and her mother, Melinda, who started the company in February with the hopes of providing a space for women and non-binary people to step into production and stage roles.  

The company’s name is inspired by its non-traditional performance schedule. Normally, theaters run shows on weekends, but Seader’s company performs  on “off nights” of the traditional performance week to accommodate actors who have jobs in the service industry. This allows actors and crew to participate in shows and tech rehearsals without fear of missing out on high- tipping shifts or losing money while pursuing their artistic careers.  

“I wanted them to have an alternative company to come and work for that wouldn’t be asking them to take all kinds of shifts off,” Seader said.   

This production model also supports other Bloomington productions, she said. Theater lovers can see weekend shows at other local theaters, while still visiting Off Night throughout the week.  

Seader has over 15 years of experience in theater. She has particular interest in using community theater as a therapeutic tool. She also led a true storytelling series at Ivy Tech.  

“Studying how these storytelling shows were actually used for community development in another part of the world inspired me to keep it going and keep making this work within my own theater company,” Seader said. “Coming back and doing these storytelling shows was a way to invite performers and people from the community to come tell true stories from their lives about surrounding social issues and themes that affected them personally.”  

One of the storytellers featured in the production, Steve Scott, will share a personal and touching story about gaining guardianship of a 15-year-old boy and how he became a permanent part of his and his wife’s family.  

Scott explained why  storytelling and drawing people together around the holidays is so critical.  

“The winter holidays are family events,” he said. “Sharing family stories is a way to tap into the experiences and humanity of others in our community. The stories we’re sharing are poignant, sad, hopeful, funny. They’re about people from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and this opens hearts and minds to the lives of those around us.” 

Both Seader and Scott said they hope to bring the Bloomington community together through storytelling.  

“Those gathered, both the story tellers and the audience, can find community, commonality, hope and joy and a deeper understanding and compassion for others,” Scott said. “It’s what the arts do, regardless of the medium.” 

Get tickets for “Off Night Stories: Winter Holidays” at the Buskirk-Chumley website. 

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