Pueblo theater company puts on drive-in performances to keep the show going during pandemic

PUEBLO — As the theater and performing arts industry struggles to make its way through to the other side of the pandemic, one theatre company is taking “drive in theatre” to a whole new level.

“You really have to love it,” Ava Martinez said. “Acting and choosing that as your profession, it’s not for everyone.”

But it definitely is for Martinez.

“I knew from a very young age that this was my entire life,” she said. “I could see myself doing absolutely nothing else.”

She’s a couple years into following her dream–studying theater at NYU. But since COVID, she’s also found herself directing and acting in shows with Pueblo’s Steel City Theatre Company.

“Really, I was just excited to be doing theater in the first place,” she said.

But doing theater without an in-person audience hasn’t exactly been easy.

“It’s been a rough year,” Steel City Theatre managing director Andrea Garrett said.

But they’re actors after all. improvising is second nature.

“We came up with this idea to do a drive-in theater,” Garrett said.

The theater marked off a portion of its parking lot, converting it into an outdoor stage.

“You come, you sit in your car, you turn on your radio to a specific station,” Garrett said. “And you are gonna be able to see live performers, but you’ll hear everything through your radio.”

And on Sunday’s cold, late-January afternoon, the show on tap was ‘Stuffed With Thanksgiving.’

“We planned for it back in November,” Garrett said. “But right as we were about to open was when the second wave really started to hit Southern Colorado.”

Sure it’s a little past time.

“We think that people will want to celebrate being thankful and grateful, even if it’s a little bit later,” she said.

And they have a lot to be thankful for.

“I have a lot of different friends in different places, and we are really one of the only theaters doing anything in this time,” Martinez said.

Putting the show together takes commitment.

“They have practiced in snow and cold and rain and pretty much any condition,” Garrett said.

But take it from Martinez–you have to know you love it.

“The rush of being on stage, it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever known,” Martinez said. “Being on stage and being part of a creative process fulfills me in a way that nothing else does.”

And once you know you love it, you’ll do anything to keep the show going.

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