Not Doomed to Zoom. #SaveTheArts in Limbo. #Stageworthy News

The Week in Reviews .
The Week in News.
The Week in Videos  Broadway Bares;Tangled the Musical.

#Stageworthy News of the Week.

If Broadway won’t return until Summer 2021, as UK impresario Cameron Mackintosh predicted this week, there are still reasons for optimism.

True, theatergoers are not crazy about watching live plays on Zoom, as my Twitter poll made clear:


On the other hand, in another poll, several recent productions on Zoom were singled out for making the most of the imperfect platform , such as “Buyer & Cellar”  “Heroes of the Fourth Turning,”  “Significant Other“and “What Do We Need To Talk About?.” (I was partial to “Mad Forest”)

One effect of the new era is that, as New York Times critic Jesse Green observes, “the experimental, the fringe and the avant-garde, which have never depended on lavish funding or popular attention, are not only surviving in their online digs but also, at least by contrast, thriving.”

Sean Stewart goes further. Thanks to the rise of online theater, Stewart, a novelist and Augmented Reality pioneer, argued on his blog last week , theater is poised to “leap-frog movies and return as the central art form of the century” because streaming platforms make theater scalable (viewable by enough people to make it affordable), and, unlike cinema, it’s both live and interactive.

There are signs that the theater community is stepping up. Ma-Yi Theater announced the creation of a new digital studio to produce and present its own 2020–2021 digital season and also for “artists across New York struggling to create high-quality digital theater.” It’s not all screens by any means. The Alliance Theater of Atlanta, in announcing its 2020-2021 season, seemed to give a glimpse into  the future of theater (the near-future anyway) — a combination of a new streaming platform,  “a reimagined drive-in version of.. A Christmas Carol, staged for the first time as a live radio play” and “socially-distanced shows”  Norwich Theatre in England has teamed up with a local circus and moved into a circus tent, which one author sees as a sensible solution: it’s spacious, it’s well-ventilated and there are no staircases to climb. This may take off: In the Berkshires, David Cale’s solo play “Harry Clarke,” originally scheduled for a run this month inside Barrington Stage Company’s Blatt Center, has moved to a tent on the grounds of the Polish Community Club across the street, after the state of Massachusetts informed BSC that it wasn’t ready to reopen indoor theaters after all.

And then, in a Glasgow public park, some imaginative entrepreneurs have created a theater made out of 40 used pianos, arguing “the arrangement of benches rather than having separate seats is more appropriate to social distancing.”

In the U.S. there IS some indoor theater taking place, such as a production of Othello  at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia — which created an agonizing dilemma for my colleague at DC Theatre Scene, Tim Treanor:

Attend a play? During the COVID plague? A personal reflection of a terrified critic

I myself faced down fears:

Bravo for featured image

NYC’s Only Theater Bookstore is Open for Business

but felt much more comfortable communicating with somebody from Japan

Watch Hamilton in Japanese, translated and performed by Gen Parton-Shin

Theater Quiz for July

Theater Openings for August


The Week in Reviews

Watch #WhileWeBreathe anthology and read my review

Book Review: American Utopia: David Byrne’s Lyrics with Maria Kalman’s Theater Curtain

The Week in Theater News

The state of arts funding is uncertain. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, providing an additional $600/week to the 20 million Americans receiving state unemployment insurance ended on July 31. The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program ends on August 8. Both aided cultural workers and institutions.

With jobless benefits expired, Trump administration officials and top Democrats try to break stimulus impasse.

Nominations for the 72nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards featured a host of Broadway veterans, including Billy Porter, receiving his second nomination for his performance as Pray Tell on FX’s Pose, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Leslie Odom Jr, and Jeremy Pope. Winners will be announced September 20th.

In what looks like an effort to hold onto the theater lovers who subscribed because of Hamilton, DisneyPlus is reportedly developing a film of the Broadway musical “Once OnThis Island” for the streaming service, Playwright Jocelyn Bioh (School Girls, or the African Mean Girls Play) will write the screenplay and Wanuri Kahiu will direct.

Play-PerView, which has really stepped up to this moment, has three more plays in August
Aug 1 RoosevElvis by The Team
Aug 8 Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman with Dule Hill and Jennifer Mudge
Aug 14: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, with original cast

Happy to see that the 10th anniversary of #48hoursinharlem by
Harlem nine is going digital August 20-24 — with the same landmark plays as inspiration that they used the first year
(I covered their ninth annual festival last year)

How Broadway Workers Are Hustling Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Closures

Amy Micallef posing with her craft creations at her home. While Broadway stages remain dark due to the pandemic, Broadway workers are concentrating on side hustles. Micallef, a Broadway seamstress who has worked in the wardrobe departments of “Hamilton,” “Waitress” and “Frozen,” makes gleeful representations of COVID-19 for sale, complete with a pair of eyes and faux fur. (Amy Micallef via AP)

Insurance: the forgotten obstacle in getting theatre back on stage
In a world in which a show could be shut for an indefinite period – either because a company member has tested positive for Covid-19 or because of a localised shutdown – the risk, without adequate insurance coverage, for many is simply too great.

Rest in Peace

Patti Karr, 88, actress, dancer and singer in 23 Broadway shows from 1953 to 1994, as well as  Off-Broadway, regional/stock productions throughout the country, film and television

The Week in Videos

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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