New program offers community for creatives in downtown Virginia Beach – The Virginian-Pilot

From the first time Jackie Alazas walked into Zeiders American Dream Theater in Virginia Beach Town Center, she knew she had found her people.

Alazas said it was the summer of 2019 when she auditioned for a new playwright’s workshop at the Performing Arts Theater.

“I just wanted to go out there, sing a song, do a monologue, do what I love, and hang out,” she said.

With no expectations, Alazas was pleasantly surprised when she learned she had been cast in a role that saw her produce two plays and star in and direct another.

Happy to be reunited with her community, especially after two years of the pandemic, Alazas is one of the members of the new membership program The Z Artist.

Alazas said she enjoys being in the same space with other creatives such as actors, writers, musicians and artists.

The program began at the start of the theater’s 2022-2023 season and focuses on strengthening the foundations of theater to nurture creativity in a safe space and showcase talent in Hampton Roads.

Jessi DiPette, Marketing Director of The Z, said it was about fostering a sense of creativity within the creative community.

“We’re really looking to get a broad network of artists because there are so many definitions of this word,” DiPette said.

DiPette said they have 20 members and expect them to grow exponentially to become the creative hub of the Virginia Beach area.

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“We want it to feel open and welcoming for someone who’s never auditioned before for someone who’s been on Broadway,” DiPette said. “And we want these two parts to meet at The Z and take their creativity to new heights together.”

Membership includes workshops with industry experts, networking hours, free panel registration, master classes, early access to performances, and invite-only artist events. It also offers promotion and exposure opportunities on the theater’s website and monthly electronic newsletters.

Z Artist members can exhibit their work in a pre-show lobby or performance. Members also have access to The Z’s creative co-working space from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

DiPette said the workspace can be a place where someone can play a few tunes on a guitar, meet up with another member to share ideas, or just find a place to let their creativity run wild.

Open to artists of all ages and experience levels, the program costs $5 per month or $60 annual fee. Junior performers 18 and under include parent or guardian membership.

“It’s about artists of all levels, backgrounds, and artistic interests in a community,” DiPette said.

Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836,

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