“Every corner was like a theater production happening right in front of me…” James Altucher recalls about New York City, and why he loved it when he moved here. But his recollection is from his article entitled New York City is Dead Forever. Here’s Why. A similar sentiment in the Atlantic by Kevin Baker: Affluence Killed New York, Not the Pandemic
And then headlines like this one yesterday in the New York Times:
New Yorkers Are Fleeing to the Suburbs: ‘The Demand Is Insane’
The pessimism is understandable, given the grim news during these past months. It might not be much comfort that this is not the first time New York has been strafed with crises.
NYC had a 20 percent unemployment rate in July, highest in NY state, according to @NYSLabor‘s new stats. That’s about 806,000 New Yorkers out of work, slightly better than June, but still at a level unseen since the Great Depression.
Photo of breadline in Times Square 1930s pic.twitter.com/X0wRDY1pEw
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) August 25, 2020
Altucher owns a comedy club, Standup NY, but nothing about what he and the others are saying is funny. Leave it to Jerry Seinfeld to answer him:
“Real, live, inspiring human energy exists when we coagulate together in crazy places like New York City. Feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go to the theater for a while is not the essential element of character that made New York the brilliant diamond of activity it will one day be again.”
A few day’s after Seinfeld’s essay, the Whitney reopened, one of several museums to do so (see the Met video below) and I walked to this museum that Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney opened in 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression. On display were some startlingly relevant works, such as this one by Martin Wong, created in 1984 and entitled “Closed”:
and this painting by Jacob Lawrence in 1939, with the label: “African-American seeking to find better housing attempted to move into new areas. This resulted in the bombing of their new homes.”
This banner hanging from the ceiling in the lobby seemed to sum up many New Yorkers’ despair:
But there was also this, “Hudson Street” by George Ault from 1932.
When I got home, I browsed the Whitney website, finding so much art over the past century in their collection that depicted New York in all its many moods. Many were about New York theater, a bunch by Edward Hopper
New York IS theater, as it always has been.….Neither is over.
The Week in Reviews
The Week in Theater News
Theater Operator Sues Insurers That Denied It Coronavirus Payments
Jujamcyn Theaters, the operator of five Broadway houses, asserts that it was wrongfully denied insurance coverage after the pandemic forced it to shut down.
NYC commercial evictions could resume September 21st (meaning also theaters.)
The Tony Awards Administration Committee met on August 27th to determine the 18 shows that will be eligible for the 74th annual Tony Awards and a few other matters.
Two theatrical unions have released a “playbook” for returning to the stage: “The Playbook presents a step-by-step approach to reopening built on five levels linked to the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community and allows for increasing activities based on clear criteria. The key is ensuring proper space and ventilation for the activity involved, augmented by a foundation of consistent and thorough hygiene practices and regular testing.”
Be An #ArtsHero campaign to convince the U.S. Senate to aid the arts continues. (see video below)
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) August 28, 2020
Aaron Roman Weiner, who started as an intern 19 years ago, has been named the new Artistic Director of LAByrinth Theater Company, with long-time A.D. John Ortiz becoming board chair.
Variety’s Broadway to Watch 2020
Broadway Advocacy Coalition, Jocelyn Bioh, choreographer Camille A. Brown, Michael R. Jackson, producer Brian Moreland, Audible Theater artistic producer Kate Navin, stage manager Cody Renard Richard, Ephraim Sykes,Shaina Taub, director Schele Williams
Rest in Peace
RIP Chadwick Boseman, 43, from cancer.
“I’m an artist. Artists don’t need permission to work…whether I’m acting or not, I write”
Portrayed Jackie Robinson, James Brown, King T’Challa in Black Panther. pic.twitter.com/UieP8rOm1n
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) August 29, 2020
Remembering the Theatrical Career of Chadwick Boseman
Boseman wrote his first play in high school. He was also a theater director.
A memorial service will be held on September 6 for Nick Cordero, who died at age 41 on July 5. It will be streamed by Broadway on Demand.
The Week in Theater Videos
Be an Arts Hero
“Meet Me at the Met”