NewsArts & Culture / September 17, 2020

Local Theater Founder Bryan Fonseca Dies From COVID-19 Complications

Bryan Fonseca founded the Phoenix Theatre and the Fonseca Theatre Company. - Courtesy Fonseca Theatre Company

Bryan Fonseca founded the Phoenix Theatre and the Fonseca Theatre Company.

Courtesy Fonseca Theatre Company

Bryan Fonseca, founder of the Phoenix Theatre and the Fonseca Theatre Company, has died from complications related to COVID-19. He was 65.

Fonseca left the Phoenix Theatre in 2018 and started the Fonseca Theatre Company on the Near Westside of Indianapolis with a mission to use art to address challenging issues, pursue justice and improve the community. 

“Bryan’s legacy as a cultural icon and his vision to give voice to and celebrate the minority communities of Indianapolis through the prism of purposeful theater and civic engagement will live on through the Fonseca Theatre,” Frank Basile, founding donor and board member of the Fonseca Theatre, said.

Fonseca founded the Phoenix Theatre in 1983 and led the organization for more than 35 years. He's credited with spearheading efforts to bringing topical contemporary theater to Central Indiana, and was known for cultivating and giving opportunities to local talent.

Nearly all Phoenix Theatre shows under Fonseca’s leadership were Indiana, Midwest, or world premieres, and the theatre developed a national reputation for plays addressing the most relevant and immediate issues facing society. 

“Bryan’s influence and contributions extend well beyond Indianapolis theatre circles," said Fonseca Theatre Board President Patricia Castañeda. "He was truly a friend to all, and a national treasure.”

Before leading the Phoenix Theatre, Bryan started a storefront theater in his hometown of Gary, Indiana, and directed shows at the Broad Ripple Playhouse.

The Fonseca Theatre Company is on hiatus, but plans to return.

“The Board is committed to the continuation of the Fonseca Theatre Company and will be following Bryan’s decision to take a break in our production through Spring 2021,” Castañeda said.

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