Philanthropist Ted Jones. Photo by Erin Stephenson

Philanthropist Ted Jones. Photo by Erin Stephenson

BY MIKE LEONARD

At the Bloomington Playwrights Project (BPP) Annual Gala in late August, Producing Artistic Director Chad Rabinovitz announced two surprises.

The first was that BPP was about to launch a $200,000 fundraising drive called the Future Fund. “It is the most important and largest fundraising effort we have undertaken in our 36 years,” Rabinovitz told the audience of supporters. “I want to secure the next 36 years.”

The second surprise brought gasps and then a standing ovation. Rabinovitz announced that Ted Jones, the 84-year-old retired director of technical facilities at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a private consultant for theaters around the country, had pledged $100,000 to launch the fundraising effort.

“Most companies do some original work, but to have one theater company devoted entirely to original work, as the BPP is, is unique to Indiana and fairly uncommon across the country,” Jones says. To have such an excellent organization in a city of our size is something of which we can truly be proud.”

BPP has been anchored for a decade at its current location at 107 W. 9th St., and the main goal of the Future Fund is to purchase the 90-seat, 4,258-square-foot building, currently under lease.

“We’ve done a six-figure renovation on the space. We’re one of those companies where the theater is a large part of our identity,” Rabinovitz says. “Last year we sold out every show — and had a waiting list every time.”

Beyond the desire to purchase the building, which adjoins the former Jake’s Nightclub, the Future Fund will look to address needs both expected and unexpected. “As technology changes, we always have a need to improve what we have,” Rabinovitz says. “And sometimes, things just break and need to be replaced.”

Last season’s productions included the premiere of Ugly Lies the Bone, written by Lindsey Ferrentino and directed by Emmy Award–winning director David Anspaugh. “Ugly Lies the Bone just opened off Broadway by one of the largest theater companies in the country and starring Mamie Gummer, the daughter of Meryl Streep,” Rabinovitz says. “That’s the model we’ve created here. You are going to see quality, and you’re going to see it here first.”