Digital Theater To Watch for Free This Holiday Weekend

The long weekend is a good time to catch up on theater that is available online for free. Some of it has been around for a while and may remain so; four of the shows below are planning to go off-line later this month.

Theater in Quarantine

Joshua William Gelb just finished live-streaming his performances of Scott R. Sheppard’s Topside at Philly’s Cannonball Festival five times a night; that and his odd and compelling theater in his tiny closet in the East Village during the lockdown remain posted on his YouTube channel.  If you are not acquainted with his shows, start with “I Am Sending You the Sacred Face,” about Mother Theresa. (My review of it.)

Theater of War Productions

For the past two years, the company has gotten heavy into Zoom readings of Greek classics by starry casts (check out Frances McDormand and Jeffrey Wright doing monologues from Oedipus on the company’s YouTube channel). Earlier this week, they did their first hybrid reading.

The Suppliants Project: Ukraine

Theater of War Productions put on Aeschylus’ 2,500-year-old play “The Suppliants” as a way to spark discussion about refugees and foreign invasions. The cast — Anthony Edwards, Keith David and Tate Donovan, and seven women from Ukraine — gave a 45-minute reading on the football field of the University of Notre Dame. You can read about it at the link above– you can also scroll to the bottom of the post and see a recording of the whole thing.

Refocus Project

In the second year of its Refocus Project, Roundabout is offering three plays by Latino playwrights for free through October 16, in partnership with Pregones/PRT. These were in-person staged readings in June that were recorded and are now being presented online;which for free (in exchange for your name and email address.) (I reviewed the first of them, and how terrific I think the series is.)

“Sarita” by María Irene Fornés

A musical about Sarita Fernandez, whom we first meet as a 13-year-old schoolgirl with a crush on a boy, and follow over the next eight years as we witness desire soured by betrayal, leading to frustration, obsession, depression and ultimately tragedy.

The Oxcart by René Marqués
In this classic Puerto Rican play, first written in 1953, Dona Gabriela and her children travel from the pastoral countryside of Puerto Rico to San Juan to the Bronx.

 El Corrido de California by Fausto Avendaño.
A bilingual play that dramatizes the start of the Mexican-American War of 1846 from the point of view of a Mexican rancher and the village he serves as mayor.

Great Performances

Black Lucy and the Bard

A ballet riffing on the mysterious “Dark Lady” in Shakespeare’s sonnets,  based on poetry by Caroline Randall Williams with a score by Rhiannon Giddens. Available through October 14.

Merry Wives

Jocelyn Bioh’s all-Black adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy reopened the Delacorte Theater in Central Park in the summer of 2021, and more or less marked the return of in-person plays to New York City. Great Performances recorded it, and is streaming it for free through November 5. (My review of the play in-person, My review of Reopening Night a terrific documentary about the making of the production, which was challenging and inspiring.)

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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