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Meet Steve Cisneros of Phantom Projects Theatre Group in La Mirada

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steve Cisneros.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Steve. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up with a passion for being on stage. I did as many plays as possible starting at the age of 9. This led to a little bit of TV/Film work, print, etc. I loved it. All of it.

At La Mirada High School, I was part of a program my Language Arts teacher, Bruce Gevirtzman, started. Each year he would write a script geared towards addressing social issues and topics that were relevant to his students. I was lucky to be part of it in 11th and 12th grade. He and I worked well together and it opened my eyes to the power of theatre and the impact it can have on an audience.

At the age of 17, I realized, that my calling wasn’t on stage anymore, but behind the scenes.

I also realized that there was very little theatre for me at that age. No one was targeting me, artistically or financially. I couldn’t afford the big shows, and I didn’t to watch children’s theatre.

So I started my own company right out of high school.

Bruce allowed me to use his scripts and I invited dozens of educators from Southern California to watch a staged reading, and to basically present my idea. The City of La Mirada and my alma mater, La Mirada High School provided support and we pitched our idea.

The next year, we booked a 5-month tour to schools with our messaged based theatre company, using other actors my same age.

The idea worked!

It turns out there were a lot of teens who were hungry for the same thing I was. So, we kept adding shows. We rehearsed in my parent’s garage and expanded to a season of shows at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, this time adding plays based on books we read in school.

Now, we produce 12 shows a year and bus in thousands of students to experience live theatre, many for the first time. Our touring shows travel to elementary, middle and high schools with shows about bullying, racism, science, and more.

We have an incredible education dept. that offers classes to students of all ages, we rent costumes all over the country, we have a residency program, we license our scripts…the list goes on and on.

We just finished our 20th Season.

Has it been a smooth road?
Our biggest challenge is always financial. Our goal is to make sure our tickets are affordable. Our field trips are only $10 per seat. We started at only $5, 20 years ago. This very little change in that time.

In order to produce such high-quality theatre, and keep our prices low, we have to seek out donations, grants and hold fundraisers.

The City of La Mirada and the La Mirada Theatre are a HUGE part of it, and underwrite our season.

But in order to maintain the quality or everything we do, we have to seek out additional funding and sometimes that’s a challenge.

Potential donors aren’t on camps with us when we make a lot of our impact. Or they aren’t at a field trip performance to see when local schools are inspired. So, we have to bring that message out there.

We’d love someone to donate a million dollars! That would allow us to put all of our attention on the shows and the messages and the themes!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Phantom Projects is primarily known for the ability to target, reach and teach teens through the performing arts. Either as an audience member at our La Mirada Theatre Season, or as a performer in our TEENS ON TOUR programs, or perhaps as a student in our Teen Acting Intensive classes.

Over the years, we’ve expanded that reach to include our touring shows for K-5, classes for children as young as 8. And parents and educators love us because we’re an extension of their classroom.

Every year, we sell out our season within months of announcing it, and that’s all thanks to the schools that understand our goal of using our shows as a part of their curriculum.

What sets us apart as well, is our 3rd show of each season at La Mirada Theatre, when we select a message/theme that is important to teens (and their parents). And with that show, we find real teens who perform the show, and facilitate a real-talk, open forum discussion with the audience.

Last year was the World Premiere of #TheWall, a show about cyberbullying, social media, and all that goes along with it. The post-show Q and A was incredibly powerful and there were tears shed on stage and in the audience.

This type of show, and the fact that we include one like it every year in our season, is incredibly special to me, because it’s so true to our roots and how we started.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles has a wonderful theatre community, and it’s an area where risks can be taken, and ARE taken every theatre season.

I’m often asked for advice from people who want to start a new theatre group, and my first response is always; What are you or will you do different.

Just putting on a play, isn’t enough to be special, even if it’s a very good production. There are lots of very good productions every night.

Otherwise, I think LA is a great place to start a theatre company.


  • Field Trip Tickets are only $10, thanks to our grants and funding resources.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Phantom Projects

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