Savannah Performance Project: keeping the arts community connected

Chris Bass talks about his live streams, the future of arts and theater

Local actor, theater veteran, performer and arts enthusiast Chris Bass launched Savannah Performance Project before the pandemic. But it was after everything shut down that things started taking off with the Facebook page.

The quick rise in popularity with live streaming prompted him to use the page as a platform to speak to members of the theater, improv, music, and general performance communities—local and beyond—and build something that has become truly entertaining and informative.

“In March, we had planned to have a community meeting with all of the performance organizations at Front Porch Improv’s new venue. And when we realized we couldn’t do that, it basically just put a halt to everything,” Bass tells Connect.

“Everything seemed so dark at that time, and I was looking for something to reach out to the community with.”

Bass cites Seth Rudetsky’s Sirius XM show, on which he talks to Broadway veterans and others in the music and acting worlds, as an influence for his live stream show. The show, which airs at 1:15 PM daily on the SPP Facebook page, finds Bass interviewing a range of people including Odd Lot Improv’s Chris Soucy and Tony Award nominee Jen Colella.

The show has even been guest hosted by Chris’ daughter Molly, who has performed with Savannah Children’s Theater and seems to follow in her dad’s footsteps.

The big goal of the show is to inspire the community, which Bass has undoubtedly done so far.

“I thought, ‘What if we were able to have that touchpoint once a day at least?’ So people know we’re still trying to keep the light on, and at least inspire ourselves and be a performance community even though we can't perform,” he says.

SPP also satisfies a longtime dream of Bass’, which began in high school when he’d watch David Letterman on TV.

“I tried to do a talk show based on Letterman, who was one of my heroes. I hadn’t done anything since then of that nature, but always in the back of my head I was like, ‘Could I do that?’” he says.

“As I’ve been doing this, I’ve realized that I could keep doing this for a while and maybe build something bigger out of it. But at the same time, I don’t want to take away from the fact that it’s so important right now that people are able to talk.

SPP is giving people a chance to stay connected to their passion, and to interface with others who share the love of performance.

“The art of conversation has not been lost because we cannot see each other. It’s actually grown quite a bit,” he says. “We’re actually having these conversations daily with people we haven’t talked to in years.”

As for the future of performance in Savannah, there’s much up in the air. But Bass is hopeful things will normalize and audiences can enjoy art up close and personal. For now, technology has allowed for artistic connection to remain intact in a different way.

“It’s almost impossible to survive this if we don’t collaborate in some way,” he says. “There are so many voices that we have locally. It has to be a community effort.”

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