#Stageworthy Week of Theatrical Frustration, Fights, and Dreams

“Afterwardsness” by Bill T. Jones was slated to begin at the Park Avenue Armory this week, the first of the productions in some half dozen New York theaters permitted to reopen at reduced capacity – but the show has been postponed because several company members tested positive for COVID-19.

That’s the frustration of this moment in a nutshell – the prospect of reopening clashing with the reality of the pandemic.

(“Anyone wondering what’s taking so long need only look at theater itself, an art form that relies on presence and shared spaces,” writes Variety’s Gordon Cox in “As COVID-19 Restrictions Start to Ease, What Will It Take for Broadway Shows to Reopen?“)

The frustration helps explain the petition signed by more than 2,000 members of Actors Equity demanding their union “detail practical and specific protocols for actually getting back to work.” And the union leadership’s response: “We see you and we hear you. Watch for more in the days ahead on a town hall that will allow you to learn more about our safety protocols, and make your voice heard, especially as vaccines are becoming more widely available.”

In New York, town halls and explanatory sessions  are proliferating — on Tuesday, March 23, The Art of Reopening: A Virtual Conversation on Reengaging Arts Audiences in Physical Spaces, from the National Endowment of the Arts, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, at 3 p.m. and Be An #ArtsHero’s Arts Education Town Hall at 8 p.m – while in France, “culture workers” are actively protesting, occupying buildings to demand that theaters reopen. “What the French protests challenge us to consider is that the arts are neither an indulgence nor a distraction; they are fundamental not just to the economy but also to the moral health of a country.” Jesse Green writes (Should the American Theater Take French Lessons?) “They are worth marching for.”

The Shed artistic director Alex Poohs

Reopening, Recalibrating, Responding to Our Current Crises. Q and A with The Shed’s Alex Poots

I did not believe there would be a “return to normal” – that expression. It was much more ‘How do we take this time to recalibrate ourselves?’ There wasn’t just a health tsunami; there was an economic one and a social reckoning. So how does a cultural organization respond to that and be relevant?

This Week in Theater Openings
The Week in Theater Reviews
The Week in Theater News
The Week in Theater Videos: We’re Still Here, A look back at entertainment in Pandemic Year 1, Patti Smith and trumpeter Riley Mulherkar captured in New York PopsUp performances; bonus video: A dog dancing champion you will not believe

The Week in Theater Openings

The Week in Theater Reviews

Nomadland and Passing Through: Discovering America by van and by foot, on stage and on screen.

Dream: Royal Shakespeare Company’s Avatar version of Midsummer Nights Dreams

The Aran Islands: Irish Rep’s Irish storytelling at its most riveting

The Week in Theater News

In ‘It has been a sort of nightmare’: how major theatres abroad fared in the pandemic, The Guardian of the UK conducts extensive interviews of four artistic directors in Europe (Berlin, Amsterdam,Paris and Sweden) plus Saheem Ali and Shanta Thake, associate directors of the Public Theater

When do you hope to reopen?
Shanta Thake
: There have been encouraging updates; New York state just announced that outdoor and indoor performances with capacity limits and other safety measures can begin in early April.

Saheem Ali: And as a not-for-profit organisation we’re in a position to come back faster than Broadway. Our bottom line doesn’t depend only on ticket sales.

For the first time ever, subscriptions to streaming services surpassed one billion, reaching 1.1 billion globally. At the same time, box office receipts plummeted because movie theaters across the world were closed for a significant part of 2020.

‘Jagged Little Pill’ Shows Broadway Should Prioritize Accessibility

Is it possible to mourn James Levine?

The Week in Theater Videos

Bonus video: Dog dancing. Orsolya Kriz and Josephine – Dogdance European Championship 2019

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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