LOS ANGELES — The Antaeus Theatre Company has been around since the early 1990s, but like many others, the pandemic forced the group to think outside the box.
"We thought, how can we better celebrate our community than looking at the different zip codes that we have in this big diverse county," said Artistic Director Bill Brochtrup. "We have a playwrights lab and we asked them to choose a zip code and write a 30-minute play about it.”
The result was six unique podcasts called The Zip Code Plays that listeners can download for free.
"We felt like the kind of intimacy of having someone tell a story in your ear kind of mimics the value that we have of being intimate in the theater," Brochtrup said.
He and his staff also decided to go a step further and create virtual tours for each of those zip codes, which explore South Central Los Angeles, Westwood, Pacific Palisades, Sun Valley, Santa Monica, and Downtown Los Angeles.
"We chose landmarks, historical places, spots of interest in those area, and we wrote up a lot of history and then we had the actors record them," Brochtrup said.
While listening to actors narrate the stories behind these points of interest, participants can visit the landmarks via Google Earth – all from the comfort of home. Brochtrup admits he has lived in LA a long time and still had a lot to learn.
"I didn’t know about Central Avenue in South Central Los Angeles and how it had been sort of a capital of the west coast jazz scene in the 1950s," he said. "The one I really didn’t know about was the idea that there were Nazis living in the Pacific Palisades building up a secret ranch where they were planning to live after the war."
The tours also featured various local businesses in each zip code including coffee shops and boutique stores that make up the landscape of the neighborhood. Brochtrup said one of the highlights has been the ability to reach new audiences all over the world, especially those for whom theatre was out of reach.
"We’ve had people from five continents and all kinds of places, people who have never been able to get to the theater have been able to take part in this," Brochtrup said.
He hopes the people see it as a fun, virtual adventure helping Angelenos discover their city in a completely new way.
"It’s all about community building and making these neighborhoods come alive,” he said.
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