Find out how a 17 year old and his high school Language Arts Teacher formed an organization that has inspired nearly 500,000 teens in Southern California.
By using theatre as a teaching tool, Phantom Projects Theatre Group brings literary classics to the stage at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, along with original plays tackling hard hitting topics relevant to teens, parents, and teachers.
2017 marks our 20th Anniversary of bringing high-qualtiy theatre to schools, youth groups and the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. In addition, our co-founder, Steve Cisneros, is honored as an Ambassador of Peace by the Violence Prevention Coalition of Orange County.
Phantom Projects is awarded the first ever Scholarship Award by the Young Entertainer Awards. The event, held at Universal Studios, Hollywood, also honors Fergie with a lifetime achievement award. The presentation to Phantom Projects is made by Christine Devine, from FOX 11 News, Los Angeles.
Phantom Projects wins 2 BroadwayWorld Los Angeles Theatre awards for BEST DIRECTOR (Alexis Jacknow) and BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Max Herzfeld), after being nominated for 5 awards, including BEST PLAY (The Diary of Anne Frank), BEST ACTRESS (Joey Maya) and BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (Valerie Lohman).
A giant reunion is formed at a special fundraising gala entitled, From 17 to 17. The event pays tribute to our founder, Steve Cisneros, who has guided the organization into its 17th year, after starting the company at the age of 17. Performances from past and present Phantom performers and speeches and presentations help celebrate the past, while looking toward the future.
Phantom Projects presents the California Premiere of THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, 1963. The performance coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which acts as the backdrop of the play which is based on the popular book.
Two new websites are launched to focus on Phantom’s expanded endeavours.
One, TheatreForTeens.org allows outside groups to purchase the rights to three of our shows geared towards teens. The other, CostumesByPhantom.com focuses on the costume rental company exclusively, giving customers an expanded glimpse of our extensive inventory.
The NAACP announces their Los Angeles Theatre Award Nominations, including Phantom Projects’ production of The Bluest Eye. The show, which ran for 4 weeks at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, received nominations for Best Lead Actress (Sola Bamis) and Best Featured Actress (Danika Butler).
Phantom Projects presents the Southern California premiere of The Giver, based on the popular Newbery Award-winning book. The show, originally scheduled for just 2 performances, extends to 6 performances and sells over 7,000 tickets.
$500,000 worth of costumes are donated to Phantom Projects. The gift allows the company to add a new stream of revenue renting out the costumes to schools and theatres across the United States. It takes nearly 50 volunteers and 3 weeks of work to prepare for the arrival of the thousands of costumes. Articles in the Los Angeles Times, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and Whittier Daily News help announce the arrival.
For the first time in nearly 10 years, a new play is penned by co-founder Bruce Gevirtzman. The show, Through These Eyes, confronts eating disorders and self-image. The show garnered wide-spread attention, including front-page articles in the Orange County Register and the Whittier Daily News. Additional articles in Backstage and LA Stage helped push the show to a near sell-out.
The City of La Mirada votes to increase funding for Phantom Projects to $38,300. The funding expands the length of a season from three shows to four and allows the troupe to move into a 5,000 square foot rehearsal hall. The expansion also includes the creation of The Young Artist Project, a program aimed at developing young talent.
The City of La Mirada votes to triple current funding to $20,000 annually and to expand the Phantom Projects series from two shows to three shows a year.
Phantom Projects becomes the only theatre troupe to present an entire season of theatre aimed specifically at teen audiences at a professional performing arts venue. La Mirada City Council votes to provide funding to Phantom Projects to present at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. In addition to touring shows, the troupe begins producing fully staged productions presenting historical based works, literary based works, and message-based shows for teens bussed in on field trips and for the general public during evening performances.
After years of being completely funded out of the pocket of founder Steve Cisneros, Phantom Projects incorporates and becomes a 501(C)(3) Non-Profit Organization.
To meet the demand for the troupe, Bruce Gevirtzman creates two new plays, Out, Out, Brief Candle (Drug/Alcohol Prevention) and The Center of the Universe (Prejudice/Tolerance). Combined with the already popular No Way to Treat a Lady (Teen Pregnancy Prevention), all three shows tour throughout the school-year, continuing to utilize real teens as the performers. Each show also continues to have a post-show discussion with the cast and the audience.
Phantom doubles the number of groups they performed for in 1997 and begins performing as far away as San Diego and San Francisco. The troupe, still rehearsing out of Steve Cisneros’ parent’s garage, driveway, and backyard, starts to get attention from the press. Stories by NBC and ABC push the group into the eyes of new audience members and educators. Calls from all over the world pour in as hundreds of schools and community groups request Phantom Projects to perform for their students.
Area educators are invited to a presentation. The evening consisted of 8 actors, dressed in black, sitting at a table reading a script. At the concusion of the reading, the idea of having real teens present the touring assemblies to local audiences was met with great enthusiasm by those in attendance. The success of the evening prompted a 5 month tour to local schools of No Way to Treat a Lady.
On the campus of La Mirada High School, Bruce Gevirtzman wrote a play for teens called No Way to Treat a Lady, a play that promoted self-control instead of just birth-control. The show was directed by student Steve Cisneros, a 17-year old High School Senior. The success of the show on the campus prompted the idea that would later become Phantom Projects Theatre Group.