Theater Blog Roundup: Are Theater Screens Here to Stay?

As theater stages begin to reopen, theater artists aren’t through with theater screens — as some of the theater bloggers make clear. Terry Teachout discusses “hybrid theater” aka “webcast theater.” The 1,100th playwright that Adam Szymkowicz interviews talks about a commission from a theater company in Richmond, Virginia– and it’s a film. Producer Ken Davenport on his blog advocates that streaming should do what Hollywood has done, and create theater departments to translate their content to the stage.

Meanwhile, Onstage Blog’s Bridgette M. Redman offers a specific lesson in live, in-person audience etiquette. Unspoken in her post: Do we have to learn it all, all over again?

In About Last Night, Terry Teachout mulls what he calls the coming of “hybrid theater” in an introduction to reviews of “webcast” plays

“Now that live theatrical performances in the U.S. are resuming, what will happen to webcast theater? At first it was purely a stopgap for onstage productions, but several regional companies have started to stream technically sophisticated shows filmed not in empty theaters but on location…

“Might it be that we are seeing the coming of a new genre—one for which the phrase “hybrid theater” has started to be used—that will become a standard part of production alongside conventionally staged shows? Michael Halberstam, the artistic director of Glencoe’s Writers Theatre, America’s foremost regional company, thinks so, arguing that hybrid shows ‘presage a shift in content, form and delivery.'”

In another post, he marvels at the gifts of Louis Armstrong, who died fifty years ago today at his home in Queens, offering an excerpt from his biography of the great jazz trumpeter.

Adam Szymkowicz interviews Brittany Fisher, whose latest project, “Bleach,” is a short film commissioned by Cadence Theatre Company of Richmond, Virginia, as part of a project inspired by the Black Lives Matter, and includes the controversy in Richmond surrounding the removal of the Confederate monuments. This is the 1,100th playwright interview on Adam’s blog. And then he creates a new post listing and linking to all 1,100 alphabetically. Which makes me wonder: Will there be a 1,101st?

Broadway & Me’s Jan Simpson recommends a dozen Theater Books for Summer Reading, more than half of which are novels that have some connection to the theater (author or characters or plot.) One of her recommendations, “Mike Nichols A Life” by Mark Harris, I read and also recommend.

In Broadway Journal, Philip Boroff reports that the Broadway League will not be releasing the grosses of the only current Broadway show, “Springsteen on Broadway,” though if it’s like the previous run, it’s likely to be among the highest grosses in Broadway history. He points out that reporting Broadway sales “is a time-honored tradition that expanded beyond trade publications, notably Variety, in the 1990s, as general-interest publications increasingly delved into film grosses, book sales and other business arcana. Stories about the business of theater generate free media coverage and reinforce the notion that Broadway is global.”

From the Rear Mezzanine’s Oscar Moore reviews a book about Vitagraph, one of the first movie studios, – reminding us, in a throwaway sentence, of the connection between stage and screen. “Vitagraph was the combined brainchild of two young, ambitious and creative English immigrants in 1897.  Both twenty.  Both hungry – make that starving – to be part of the entertainment industry centered in Manhattan – consisting then of family friendly variety shows.”

JK Theater Scene’s Jeff Kyler celebrates favorite Betty Buckley moments—e.g. “The last 3 seconds ofSunset Boulevard

In Onstage Blog, Bridgette M. Redman offers The dos and don’ts of talkbacks, which is advice for the audience members, not the moderators (though somebody could do another blog post advising them.) She also includes nine suggested questions, including
 What do you like most about your character?
Is there anything put forth in this play that you disagree with?
 Has a year-plus of isolation during the pandemic changed the way you approached or interpreted this work

Also on the blog, AnnaRae Martin explains her choices for “Actors I Would Love To See on Broadway Someday“: Lady Gaga, John David Washington, David Tennant, Jesse Plemmons, Tiffany Haddish, Dev Patel

Just as all Hollywood studios now have theater departments to turn their movies into stage shows, so too, Ken Davenport writes in The Producers Perspective, should streaming companies Netflix, Apple and Amazon. “You’ve already optioned some of our content. Disney with Hamilton. Apple with Come from Away. Netflix with DianaAmerican Son, and more…..ou should also have a team mining all that original content for dramatization.  “

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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