Four legendary actors died within little more than a week of one another, all in their nineties, long lifetimes devoted to their art. The latest Christopher Plummer and Hal Holbrook. It was bracing to realize, for example, that Hal Holbrook portrayed Mark Twain more years than Samuel Langhorne Clemens portrayed Mark Twain.
The family of Cicely Tyson has set an official public viewing for Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET at the Abyssinian Baptist Church
If they all lived long lives, their deaths hit us amidst nearly a year of grief and uncertainty, of lives and livelihoods lost. Still, Shanta Thake of the Public Theater, who has had more than her share of the sorrows, writes about being buffeted by the joy of creation, and gratitude for the possibility of change. (link below.)
Valentine’s Day and Black History Month each influence several works of theater opening this week, February 8-14, 2021, listed day by day.
The Valentine-oriented shows this week range in title (and mood) from “Harmony” and “On Love” to “Revenge Porn” and “Mortified Doomed Valentine’s Day” — and that doesn’t include any of the ones on Valentine’s Day itself.
The Black history plays feature Sojourner Truth, and Malcolm X … The Metropolitan Opera continues honoring black divas,
Super Bowl LV: What You Missed:
See also Super Bowl Halftime Show below in The Week in Videos
The Week in Theater Reviews
Theater Blog Roundup: Jump-starting an arts revival. TikTok Followup. Sylvester Stallone Off-Broadway?!
The Week in Theater News
Susan Smith Blackburn Finalists:
Glace Chase (Aus/US) Triple X … Erika Dickerson-Despenza (US) cullud wattah … Miranda Rose Hall (US) A Play for the Living in the Time of Extinction … Dawn King (UK) The Trials … Kimber Lee (US) The Water Palace … Janice Okoh (UK) The Gift … Ife Olujobi (US) Jordans … Frances Poet (UK) Maggie May … Jiehae Park (US) The Aves … Beth Steel (UK) The House of Shades
Broadway Advocacy Coalition has announced its next #BwayforBLM forum: What Now. Part I is scheduled for February 15 at 6 PM ET,
“…the first key difference between now and the context of the Great Depression, is that for the time being most live, in-person theatre can’t happen at all. So the calls for a new FTP are borne partly of theatremakers’ quest for immediate relief in a downtime. But they are also driven by their pursuit of new models outside business as usual; this moment of crisis, they feel, is an opportunity to change the conversation about the arts and its workers. Clarity on how these two urgent impulses—relief now, structural changes for the long term—intersect and support each other is crucial if advocates are to present a unified front and plan of action.”
Is theater even theater when you watch it on your laptop? Alexis Soloski asks. “A lot of nights spent clicking from Zoom to Vimeo had left me with a question. So I asked it to a handful of actors, devisers, puppeteers and directors who have incorporated screens into their works for at least a decade, plus a few academics who think about technology and performance. Here it is: Is any of this onscreen theater really theater at all?”
The answers, largely, are yes. “Whether or not onscreen theater feels like theater may depend on whether it offers a feeling of liveness, with all the potential for error and surprise and invention and anything-could-go-wrong-at-any-moment contingency that liveness affords.”
Shanta Thake, associate artistic director at the Public Theater, writes of grief and gratitude and joy in this moment in America Theatre Magazine:
“… Amid sadness and anger, I am also buffeted by waves of profound gratitude. Gratitude for this moment to not simply pivot, but to begin again, to build a new and better country, field, and room where we can unmoor ourselves from what absolutely did not work and caused so much harm before. This current set of crises, set in its year-long frame of the COVID pandemic and its 400-year frame of systemic racism, reminds us brutally that this is a long game.
I won’t pretend it has all been a joyful act of creation, but joy must be part of the work for it to succeed….”
The Week in Theater Videos
Jeremy O. Harris talks to Trevor Noah for 12 minutes, at the end advocating for a bail-out of the theater, which he equates with a new Federal Theatre Project.
Tiffany Haddish flaunts her Shakespeare nerdom
Christopher Plummer interviewed at the Paley Center in 2012