Congressional leaders announced an agreement on a nearly $900 billion stimulus package on Sunday that includes some $15 billion for theaters and other cultural venues in the Save Our Stages bill. The final votes are expected on Monday, after which the bill will go to President Trump for signing.
#SaveOurStages is a historic piece of legislation. $15 billion in dedicated relief represents a seismic shift in the conversation @ the Federal level about the socioeconomic value of Arts & Culture. SOS marks a new relationship between the Federal Government & The Arts. https://t.co/Z2vUaSoVmy
— Be An #ArtsHero (@BeAnArtsHero) December 21, 2020
In a later Tweet, the all-volunteer ad hoc arts advocacy organization added: “There is so much more needed. 2.7 million Arts Workers who have been unemployed for nine months need so much more than the $600 “stimulus” or the meager $300 in expanded unemployment benefits. We absolutely must do more under President Biden.”
Still, the agreement, if signed into law, signals a promising finale in a year full of misery for everybody, including the theater community. There were some other bright spots throughout the year:
The Week in Theater Reviews and Previews
A solo musical about Mother Teresa performed by a man in drag inside a closet? This may sound like an irreverent campy nun musical boosted to greater sacrilege because she is now officially Saint Teresa of Calcutta. And did I mention the drag performer lip-syncs?
But “I Am Sending You The Sacred Face,” the latest inventive theater from director-performer Joshua William Gelb’s Theater in Quarantine, is actually something much closer to reverent.
How do you make your “A Christmas Carol” so different that it stands out in a season piled high with streaming versions of Dickens’ heartwarming tale?
That seems to be the main aim of Streaming Musicals’ “Estella Scrooge,” with a cast of Broadway stars, a fresh score by Paul Gordon, pandemic-era technical innovation, and some barbed satire that speaks to the present moment. Yet the result, to paraphrase Dickens, is the best of tries, and the worst of tries.
In its use of snark and camp and raunch and bleak reality, in an apparent campaign to deny the false cheer of the holidays, it is also insisting that the holidays belong to everybody. Doesn’t that sound like holiday spirit?
Since March, the @IrishRep has been dedicated to creating and presenting theater virtually for audiences all over the world. To close out the year, Irish Rep is presenting Meet Me in St. Louis: A Holiday Special in Song and on Screen pic.twitter.com/0gL8KIDU2J
— CBS Sunday Morning 🌞 (@CBSSunday) December 20, 2020
Holiday Shows 2020 Guide: All the Nutcrackers, A Christmas Carols and Other Annual Traditions You Love, This Year Online
The Week in Theater News
“The grants include $12.6 million in new investments, nearly $10 million of which is designated for coronavirus pandemic relief and arts education initiatives. Funding will increase over the prior year for grantees, including larger increases for smaller organizations,” the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs said.
This woman, a nurse named Sandra Lindsay, was the first American to be vaccinated against Covid-19. She wanted “to inspire people who look like me’ to follow her example
She lives in Queens.
Producers, how about inviting her to attend the first Broadway show that (re)opens ?! pic.twitter.com/50PA06isQx
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) December 15, 2020
(Put in folder labeled “That was then.”)
A study by Theatre Communications Group shows that U.S. nonprofit theatres were in relatively good financial shape in the year between Oct. 2018 and Sept. 2019.
Broadway Licensing, a company founded by Sean Cercone in 2017, has bought Dramatists Play Services, a company founded in 1936, which controls licensing rights to plays by many prominent playwrights, including Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and Edward Albee, as well as living playwrights David Henry Hwang, Suzan-Lori Parks, Matthew Lopez, Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel, and Tracy Letts. The move was partly inspired by the challenges facing the theater business posed by the pandemic, according to Variety.
5 ways the pandemic will transform the live theater industry, by Michael Barra, the CEO of Lively McCabe Entertainment, in Fortune:
Broadway programming will shift its focus
Viable alternatives to New York and London will emerge
The ‘creative class’ will migrate
Theater content will increasingly appear on screens—big and small
Performers’ unions will consolidate
Here’s a complicated story involving the use of August Wilson’s “Fences” in a private high school curriculum making a Black parent uncomfortable — and resulting in her son being expelled.https://t.co/LOp0FPOnrQ
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) December 15, 2020
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) December 19, 2020
“Not Writing” by playwright Clare Barron (Dance Nation), which she hasn’t done for four years.
“Our need for success makes taking breaks really scary. Our obsession with young success makes people go crazy and feel less valuable as they get older.
We have to fight both of these things.”
Rest in Peace
There Was Only One Ann Reinking by Sylviane Gold in Dance Magazine
Looking at the online videos, I find myself repeatedly zeroing in on Reinking’s arms—those eloquent, mobile shoulders; the jazz hands; the flamenco fingers; the ballet wrists. How could they all be there in one dancer, making perfect sense?
Week in Theater Videos
Georgia on My Mind
Make Them Hear You, from Ragtime
Jagged Live: That I Would Be Good
Nutcracker in Central Park
A Christmas Carol as Shadow Puppetry