The nine days of early voting ended Sunday, with more than 1.1 million New Yorkers casting ballots. That is 41 percent of New York City’s total voter turnout in the 2016 Presidential election (when there was no early voting in New York.)
The theater community hasn’t just been voting ; they’ve been urging others to do so in video, song and dance. They’ve been filling the calendar with political theater
And they’ve been making their preference clear. Here is “Bring Back Broadway, A Zoom Cantata performed by Unemployed Actors For Biden” (“Guys who spread the germs don’t get second terms.” )
Election Day November 3 is the final day to vote. Polls will be open from 6:00AM through 9:00PM at your designated polling location. Visit findmypollsite.vote.nyc to find your poll site and view your sample ballot.
The Week in Reviews
Eighty-four years after theaters in 17 states across America simultaneously opened “It Can’t Happen Here,” a dramatization of Sinclair Lewis’ cautionary tale imagining the rise of fascism in America, nine New York City theater companies staged the play in six languages online together, days before a crucial American election. The idea alone is a thrilling declaration of solidarity, even as it sounds unworkable. But this production of It Can’t Happen Here worked surprisingly well.
Con Melody is a drunk saddled with a run-down tavern outside Boston, who fancies himself a European war hero born in an Irish castle. He’s a vain, moody character living an illusion in “A Touch of the Poet.”
The audience for the Irish Repertory Theatre’s online production of Eugene O’Neill’s play is also living in an illusion, but a much happier one. Our illusion is that Robert Cuccioli, who portrays Con, and the rest of the ten-member cast are all moving around designer Charlie Corcoran’s set on the stage of the Irish Rep, although we were told in the credits rolling on the screen at the start that they are actually performing separately in locations ranging from New Jersey to Tennessee to Berlin.
Wallace Shawn wouldn’t get into the elevator with me a while back. The elevator was large and empty (except for me) — the one at Lincoln Center Theater that brings theatergoers up to the Claire Tow on the top floor.
“I promise not to breathe on you,” I joked, but he muttered something and stayed put, allowing the doors to close, presumably waiting for the elevator to come back down for him after I had used it.
This was on March 1.Two weeks later, New York City shut down, and we all started wearing masks.
Wallace Shawn may be strange, but he is also prescient. His prescience is on dazzling and distressing display in “Evening At The Talk House,” a Zoom reading by The New Group of a chilling dystopian comedy that proves that life can imitate art.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out #40YearOldVersion on @netflix, written, directed & starring @RadhaMUSprime. Among (many) other things, it’s SPOT-ON satire of downtown theater, making the same points as @Weseeyou_WAT & @BwayAdvocacyCo , hilariously. https://t.co/6ziF5ZMPeX
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) October 29, 2020
Book Review: The 24 Hour Plays’ Viral Monologues
Reading these monologues from the early days of COVID-19, many of which I had watched online, made me think of the way Trump impersonator Adam Baldwin on Saturday Night Live recently spoofed the president’s statement that “we’re rounding the corner” on the pandemic: “We’re doing terrific, we’re rounding the corner. In fact, we’ve rounded so many corners we’ve gone all the way around the block and we’re back where we started in March.”
It was in March that the 25-year-old theater company 24 Hour Plays launched its series Viral Monologues, presenting the first batch of five-minute plays on its Instagram account on March 17, just five days after Broadway was shut down.
They’ve delivered a new batch of about a dozen original monologues nearly every Tuesday since, making 24 Hour Plays one of the three earliest and most consistent sources of legitimate online theater created during the pandemic…Yet, out of the hundreds of Viral Monologues produced, the 54 scripts are all from within the first month.
The Week in Theater News
MCC Theater’s new season includes LiveLabs, original virtual one-act plays, by Omar Vélez Meléndez, Halley Feiffer, Mfoniso, Susan Soon He Stanton, and Dominique Fishback. It also plans to produce in-person stagings of its previously canceled production of Jocelyn Bioh’s Nollywood Dreams and a newly announced production of Donja R. Love’s soft, when it is safe to do so.
Ars Nova is planning a 24-hour telethon on December 4 that promises over 100 artists,including Dave Malloy, RachelChavkin, Larry Owen, as well as “deep dives” into KPOP and Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.
NYC the Official Guide has added playwright Matthew Lopez (The Inheritance) and others as “curators” for its Virtual NYC Curator Collections, a series of guest curators selecting their favorite NYC cultural experiences from hundreds of organizations throughout the five boroughs
Eiight producers who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color have launched The Industry Standard Group (TISG),
a “multicultural commercial investment and producing organization aiming to make theatre accessible, inclusive, and more equitable.”
Here’s an idea: Paying theater artists a salary, rather than forcing them to be freelance. Such an investment in artists is happening in Soho Rep’s Project Number One, in San Francisco’s universal basic income pilot program for artists. “If we want to reinvigorate our art form and come back from this lull with vibrant, groundbreaking work, we need to invest in the artists who are making it.”
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) October 31, 2020
Week in Theater Videos
Happy Halloween, spoof of Book of Mormon
Lin-Manuel joins honors for Alex Lacamoire, accepting the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award
Saturday Night Live: New York Musical.”A man (Pete Davidson) surprises everyone (John Mulaney, Chris Redd) by buying underwear from a Times Square souvenir shop.”