With exactly three weeks to go until Election Day and, as we learned officially last Friday, at least another eight more months until Broadway reopens, it’s hard not to feel anxious. But there are inspiring ways to look at this moment — reflected each in their different ways by the Week in Videos teased in the photographs above, and presented below.
Here are four ways that the community can see as (as Neil LaBute might put it) reasons to be happy:
- It helps to have historical perspective. Broadway has been shut down at least a dozen times before:
Actors Equity Strikes: August 7 to September 7 of 1919, June 2-12 of 1960; June 8, 1964; June 17-20, 1968
Musician’s strikes September 18 – October 1975 and March 7 – 11, 2003
September 11th, 2001 for two days
Stagehands strike, November 10-29 2007
Hurricane Sandy, October 28-31
Blizzard of 2016, January 23, 2016
Blackout of 2019, July 13
Ok, so never as long as now — a promised 15 months at minimum — but even this can be put in perspective:
If we’re talking about English-language theatre, then you have to go back to the time of Oliver Cromwell. London theatres were closed from 1642 to 1660. One of the first things King Charles II did after being restored to the throne was to open them again.
— Peter Schmitz (@schmeterpitz) October 9, 2020
We are living through a historical moment. That’s how The University of Texas at Austin is looking at it; they’ve launched an initiative to document “a year of changes”
Few dispute that theater will re-emerge — and some expect that the changes will be for the better.
2. There is plenty of theater right now — some of it live and in person.
I have personally been to four such shows just in the past two weeks — two of them indoors, three of them still running: Static Apnea, Random Acts, and Voyeur.
And large-scale venues, such as Park Avenue Armory, The Shed, and St. Ann’s Warehouse are lobbying the city to reopen, saying they’re ready now.
3. As artists and entertainers, the theater community is practiced at lifting people up, though it admittedly seems an especially heavy lift these days.
This explains the many starry singing in collective videos and, recently, on reclaimed city space. It also explains why the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing has determined that nominations for The Tony Awards 2019-2020 will be announced on the Tony YouTube channel on October 15 by host James Iglehart. The reaction was not uniform:
Reaction to news that @TheTonyAwards nominations will be announced October 15?
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) October 8, 2020
To theatre artists in this bleak time: we all remain artists. Your work continues to reverberate while our stages are silent. Let’s store up, read, watch, witness because there will be a harvest ahead. I am so grateful to the artists who enrich my theatrical hibernation.
— Paula Vogel (@VogelPaula) October 10, 2020
4. Theater artists have become activists, making their voices heard in issues of concern specifically to the arts community, and to the nation as a whole.
Sarah Jessica Parker: “we must save Broadway”
A new organization called Broadway for Biden, for example, is stepping up its fundraising and awareness events this month, including In Our America: A Concert for the Soul of the Nation on October 21st, yet another star-studded occasion.
An individual example:
Patti LuPone to Donald Trump: You’re Fired. And your Evita act sucks
The Week in Reviews
The Great Work Begins: Scenes from Angels in America
.Static Apnea. Disorienting but Safe Theater, then Familiar but Unsafe Theater.
Random Acts review. A white girl’s lessons in racial tension (in person!)
The Week in Theater News
Actor’s Equity and SAG-AFTRA clash over how (and how much) actors in streaming theatre should be paid
Congratulations to playwright Larissa Fasthorse (“The Thanksgiving Play”), one of this year’s winners of a @Macfound “Genius” Grant,
no-strings-attached $625,000, distributed over five years.
My review of Thanksgiving Play, when it was at @PHnyc in 2018:https://t.co/utUlXLFHfx pic.twitter.com/5kOEbz3LI6
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) October 6, 2020
SITI Company announces its final season will be in 2022. According to artistic director Anne Bogart, the company asked themselves: “Are we an institution that continues on indefinitely, or are we a group of artists who circled around one another 30 years ago and then stayed together based upon a shared vision about collaborative creation?” Even asking the question is unusual.
Justice, a new musical About Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor, will open in Arizona in 2021. The musical will feature music and lyrics by Brian Lowdermilk and Kate Kerrigan, and a book by Lauren Gunderson.
Broadway Best Shows returns with a vegengeance, announcing seven revivals this fall, featuring impossibly starry casts.
First up, on October 14: Gore Vidal’s Best Man, whose 19-member cast includes Morgan Freeman, Zachary Quinto, Stacy Keach and John Malkovich.
“That Kindness: Nurses in Their Words,” new play by @VDay (aka Eve Ensler) at @BAM_Brooklyn
performed by a star-studded cast, including @theebillyporter, @conniebritton, @Rosie
Details in my calendar https://t.co/kN6Kjs3BTL pic.twitter.com/Q9RhZWTO1s
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) October 8, 2020
An All Wendy Wasserstein Weekend on what would have been the playwright’s 70th birthday, to benefit @TDFNYC‘s Wendy Wasserstein Project. Oct 16-18
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) October 9, 2020
Rest in Peace
Maurice Edwards, 97, whose long and varied résumé included directing operas and stage plays, acting in numerous Off Broadway productions and a few on Broadway, helping to found experimental theater troupes, and managing the Brooklyn Philharmonic.
Tommy Rall, 90, actor and dancer who brought Broadway skills to Hollywood films including Kiss Me Kate, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Girl and Pennies From Heaven
Week in Theater Videos
Broadway sings Sondheim
They gathered on the red steps of the TKTS booth to sing “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park With George, an impromptu choir that featured some of the brightest lights on Broadway: Bernadette Peters (who starred in the original 1984 Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical) Gavin Creel, Kelli O’Hara, Ariel Stachel, Andrew Rannells, Carolee Carmello, Norm Lewis, Kate Baldwin, Charl Brown, Jennifer Damiano, Brandon Victor Dixon, Stark Sands, Jason Gotay, Telly Leung, Andréa Burns, Erika Henningsen, Javier Muñoz, Sierra Boggess.