Theater and Black Lives Matter. Reopening Fears and Plans. Project Pride.

#Stageworthy News of the Week.
Several days after George Floyd was killed on Memorial Day at the hands of Minnesota police, playwright Jeremy O. Harris called on six theaters that produce his plays, which he said express on stage the same “anger, frustration and activism” that are now on the streets of America,”to articulate to the community you serve why black lives matter to you.”
Coincidentally or not, all six did just that – as did many more. And both the 65th annual Drama Desk Awards, which was scheduled for Sunday night, the Public Theater’s We Are One, which was set for Monday night, and Broadway on Demand’s Tony Awards Celebration of June 7,  were all postponed. “This is not the moment to focus on the Public,” artistic director Oskar Eustis said. “This is a time for mourning and reflection.”
And protesting…including in the theater district.

The first six statements are from the theaters that Harris mentioned, but the outpouring was wide-ranging and remarkable, including something of a mea culpa from Lin-Manuel Miranda. “History has eyes on all of us tonight.”

New York Theater Quiz for May 2020

June 2020 Online Theater Openings: Pride and Perseverance. What’s Streaming Day by Day


Reopening Fears and Plans

New York City will enter Phase 1 of reopening on June 8, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday. Mayor Bill de Blasio said he expects at least 200,000 New Yorkers to start heading back to their workplaces in Phase I as construction and wholesale operations resume, and furniture, clothing and electronics stores open for curbside pickup. The MTA has increased subway and rail service to accommodate more commuters. New York City businesses that reopen in Phase I must do so in compliance with social distancing protocol and limit occupancy to 50 percent. (NBC)

Theaters won’t reopen until Phase 4.

Poll Shows One Hurdle to Reopening Broadway: Fear of Jerks
Many of the nation’s biggest live performance producers and presenters have given up on the idea of fall shows, setting their sights instead on 2021, and the poll suggests that they have taken the right read on just how ready their audiences are to come back.

Town Hall: How Off-Off Broadway Can Be Saved

Theater workers imagine the future. The Daily Beast spoke to a producer, choreographer, stage manager, lighting designer, and Actors Equity president Kate Shindle.  “Mrs. Doubtfire” choreographer Lorin Latarro has spent her time in lockdown re-choreographing the show “with social distancing in mind…I have taken out any partnering—which I love to do—which makes me very sad, and anything involving people being very close to each other.”

Meanwhile, while people contemplate, plan and worry about the reopening of New York stages, there is a huge uptick in consumption of online arts
“The Metropolitan Opera’s first free “Nightly Opera Streams” offering of Carmen crashed the site due to the unprecedented demand; rebroadcasts attracted about 7.9 million viewers worldwide.” (San Francisco Classical Voice.)

Theater Blog Roundup: Praising theater activism, fighting despair, toasting “Corona lit”

“If you look at history of American theater, it has always—more perhaps than any other form in America—been activist at times of national trauma,” Frank Rich said (in a 15-year-old interview unearthed by Rob Kendt.) “In the 1930s, during the Depression, the Group Theatre and Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre did very political theatre, not only about the economic situation but about race and the rise and fascism. And way before Hollywood started doing it, issues like Vietnam were raised on Broadway. It happened again with the AIDS epidemic, which was particularly traumatic for the theatre. That was one of the things I noticed when I started reviewing theater: The people I covered were literally dying, and the theater responded.”

Rest in Peace Larry Kramer

Tony Kushner on Larry Kramer:

He seemed to have known practically everyone, and knew or claimed to know many of their spiciest, darkest secrets.

Larry also knew what made the wheels of the worlds of art and politics turn, who had called whom to make stuff happen. And he knew who failed to make the wheels turn, who failed tests of chutzpah or moral courage, by which Larry meant voluble outrage. He adored the just and brave and talented, and he adored denouncing those who had failed to act, those who had let us down.

Project Pride

The Smithsonian’s Pride Alliance kicks off Pride month with Project Pride, a virtual concert and digital time capsule celebration of LGBTQ+ heritage, culture, and history, with short talks by eight Smithsonian curators, including profiles of Alvin Ailey and Dr. Sally Ride, and such performers as Rufus Wainwright, Soko, Indigo Girls and Pet Shop Boys.

Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History also offers an online version of its exhibition, “Illegal to Be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall.”

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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