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LGBTQ trailblazers 20% Theatre Company announce final season

Q-Stage's 2019 production 'Brujeria for Beginners' by Keila Anali Saucedo gets full treatment in 2021.

Q-Stage's 2019 production 'Brujeria for Beginners' by Keila Anali Saucedo gets full treatment in 2021. Allen Panini

For the past 15 years, 20% Theatre Company has presented productions showcasing voices that are often underrepresented on local stages. That has included plays written and produced by women; Q-Stage, an incubator-type program that helps queer and trans artists develop and present new works; and NAKED I, which showcased new work by LGBTQ artists. 

In total, we’re talking over 55 plays and events, including nationally touring plays, showcasing over 1,000 LGBTQ and allied artists.

“When I decided to start 20% Theatre Company back in 2005, I had no idea what this organization would become, nor how it would impact so many people,” says founder/executive director Claire Avitabile. “Our work has not just changed lives, but it has also saved lives.” 

A recent press release explains that while the company is not in financial crisis at the moment, the current COVID situation and the state of the arts scene in response has made sustainability impossible. Rather than take on debt, they are bowing out -- or, as they poetically put it, “sunsetting” -- before things get dire.

“Our programs and productions have given hundreds of marginalized artists some of their first professional opportunities ever — opportunities which led them to further opportunities with us, with other local companies, and even nationally and internationally,” Avitabile continues.

Projects for 20% Theatre’s final season will start in the fall, and will run into late 2021. Things will kick off with an online virtual collection of past Naked I productions. Q-Stage will go on in winter 2021, while Brujería for Beginners, first featured as a one-act play in 2019’s Q-Stage, will receive a full production in spring 2021.

As for its archives, past Naked I collections will live on as video content on Amazon.com, while Q-Stage will continue on through Lightning Rod, another incubator-type program at Pillsbury House Theatre. Finally, 20%’s archived materials -- featuring 15 years of photography, scripts, playbills, and more -- will be donated to the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies at the University of Minnesota, where the public will have access to them.

For more details on the theater’s final season, check out tctwentypercent.org.