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For owner of Venus Theatre in Laurel, every picture tells a story

Plastic pink flamingos sitting on theater chairs. A pair of red and blue cowboy boots. A lamp without a shade. On Nov. 11, Deb Randall began posting an image a day as part of Venus Theatre’s new initiative, Objects of Survival: Plays of the Pandemic.

To recognize Venus Theatre’s 20th birthday, Randall will post an image for 20 days on Instagram as prompts. Playwrights are invited to create a play inspired by one or more of the images and submit it to Randall on Dec. 15. Randall then hopes to publish five of the plays in the theater’s first anthology.

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“It is really about the process and letting yourself explore ideas,” said Randall, who owns the Venus. “It’s time for satire, comedy, for art. We’re missing art.”

The plays should have no more than seven performers and must also empower women, which has been in the theater’s mission from its beginnings, Randall said.

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“We want to stay engaged with the actors and the community,” Randall said. “It’s a way to keep Venus alive. We’re all in this together.”

The images are also a way for Randall to let go, as she is actively cleaning out her studio space on C Street.

“I feel like we really need to clear this space out,” Randall said. “We have a funky vibe. I want to make it real clean and sterile.”

The posted image prompts, Randall said, are a way to “celebrate the objects and memorialize them before we get rid of them.”

She then plans to tackle the theater’s ventilation system to assure quality air flow is in the building. A grant from the city of Laurel has helped her pay her rent and to start an initiative to get an air purifier system and have hand sanitizer stations put in place.

“It is the ethical thing to do,” Randall said. “I want it to be super safe when we open again.”

Special T-shirts in recognition of the theater’s 20th anniversary are also being designed and will be made available in time for the holidays, she said.

She is looking forward to reading the play submissions.

“People are liking it. They are waiting to send them in,” Randall said. “I’m just trying to stay alive.”

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