#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.”
We are deeply saddened and angry at the injustice around us. We can not pretend to understand #GeorgeFloyd ‘s experience but we stand with the protests in Minneapolis and around the country. There is so much more work for us to do. #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd
— LincolnCenterTheater (@LCTheater) May 30, 2020
— NYTW (@NYTW79) May 31, 2020
A Statement from Vineyard Theatre pic.twitter.com/ywyUnOfaZW
— Vineyard Theatre (@vineyardtheatre) May 31, 2020
— The New Group (@TheNewGroupNYC) June 1, 2020
(2/2) …and the nation, and the privilege we stand to mobilize in service of social justice. #BlackLivesMatter. See our full statement, action items, and list of resources here: https://t.co/UbSe6z4GAf
— Playwrights Horizons (@phnyc) May 31, 2020
We must all feel outraged by the continued inequality and violence perpetrated by those in positions of authority and privilege, especially towards Black communities. 2/4
— Center Theatre Group (@CTGLA) May 30, 2020
Our obligation now, and always, is to stand alongside our black brothers and sisters and against all forms of racism and senseless violence. Take action now: https://t.co/HM8zvMkTWL #BlackLivesMatter #WeHaveHadEnough #TogetherWeStand pic.twitter.com/lttPRSSkv4
— Ain’t Too Proud (@AintTooProud) May 31, 2020
— MJ (@MJtheMusical) May 31, 2020
— Hamilton (@HamiltonMusical) May 31, 2020
— COMPANY (@CompanyBway) May 31, 2020
We stand together. Black Lives Matter.
— Girl From The North Country on Broadway (@NorthCountryBwy) May 31, 2020
— DIANA: A True Musical Story (@DianaOnBroadway) May 31, 2020
“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear—
You’ve got to be carefully taught!” -Oscar Hammerstein II pic.twitter.com/DEsaf7jUdU
— The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization (@RnH_Org) May 31, 2020
— Atlantic Theater (@AtlanticTheater) May 30, 2020
The Broadway League Statement on the killing of George Floyd pic.twitter.com/INgaJUN8SN
— The Broadway League (@BroadwayLeague) May 31, 2020
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.
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.)
“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.”
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.
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.”