Posted in #newnormal, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, classic Ailey, Resident Acting Co., streaming, virtual

In a world gone viral in all the wrong ways

We also have the kind of “viral” that once meant something we wanted to share with everyone was getting its share of attention. In that old fashioned sense, the virtual theater has created so much “content” to share with all of us. A couple of the many standouts are featured here.

Under the rubric, #TheShowMustGoOn, Robert Battle’s Alvin Ailey Company continues to share its dance and its uplift with us. In addition, under the Ailey All Access umbrella, the first piece Battle created for the company when he began his tenure there, Juba .is streaming on-line through July 16th, followed by Camille A. Brown’s City of Rain, July 16-23.

The Resident Acting Co has taken a, shall we say, scholarly and interactive approach in their “Play Date” series. There are several scheduled for the summer, although some are still TBD.

Instructions are simple: 1. You read a play.  
2. We have a presentation with readings from the script.
3. Join the discussion.

Reserve your spot by sending an email to ractheatre@gmail.com.

On July 22nd, join in the conversation about Accidental Death of An Anarchist by Dario Fo, at 6pm on Zoom.

So many shows, so much dance, such an abundance of entertainment to be enjoyed from the comfort of our homes offers a welcome diversion from the concerns of our #newnormal.

#StayHome_SaveLives

Posted in Uncategorized

Virtually everything has gone virtual

Photo: Women Without Men By Hazel Ellis Directed by Jenn Thompson presented by The Mint Theater Company; Dress rehearsal photographed: Friday, January 29, 2016; 7:30 PM at Stage II; New York City Center 131 W 55th St. (between 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY; Photograph: © 2015 Richard Termine. Sets by Vicki R. Davis

Theater requires an audience, and an audience needs its theater. This is the premise that keeps the artists of the stage involved and captivated in the #StayHome_StaySafe space.

The audience cannot crowd together to enjoy the show in our new paradigm. The show can come to it. And so many do….

Now we add The Mint’s Summer Stock Streaming (free to all) which will present three plays, and engage 30 theater artists, in programming available from July 6th through 19th.

Here’s how the Mint puts it: “Our archival videos are shot during a live performance with three high-definition cameras, edited to make a satisfying, close-up look at our productions. Of course there’s nothing like seeing a play in a theater, but our videos will provide you with an intimate and enjoyable experience.” The actors and stage managers connected with the shows are on payroll for two weeks, providing them with employment in these fallow times, and us with a chance to visit or revisit some of the beloved repertory.

Come see overlooked and reborn gems like Women without Men, The Fatal Weakness, and The New Morality during this mini-festival. Here’s your key to access:

admission is FREE, and the password is: LostPlays2020; Click Here to View Starting July 6
Posted in #DanceTheatreOfHarlem, ballet, Celia Keenan-Bolger, dance, Dance Theatre of Harlem, dancers life, jazz, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Keen Company, New York City Ballet, New York Theatre Workshop

Enjoying Virtually

That should be a hash-tag since we are trying to foster a meme here, so #EnjoyVirtually. It’s the virtuous way to theater today.

With theater is coming to you these days, you will be as busy and entertained as you choose.

For instance, Jazz at Lincoln Center offers nearly daily concert programs. Delightful.

New York Theater Workshop, like the Keen Company mentioned a couple of times in my blog posts recently, has really stepped up its game. This is from today’s email to me: “HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OUR VIRTUAL THEATRE this week, including ourMONDAYS @3 andWORKSHOP WEDNESDAYS series!” And which goes on to say: “Our programming is free and open to the public, just make sure to register in advance! All artists who contribute to these important online gatherings are compensated. 

If you’re in the position to make a gift to support our work, we hope you’ll consider doing so—even $5, $10, $25 makes a big difference.”

Since the connection the theaters are providing us is so invaluable, we all should consider donating if we can. Even for free programming. Like NYTW, Keen is asking for financial assistance with a campaign and a matching funds donor. Other companies, from DTH which is offering dance fitness classes to the above cited JLC, to the New York City Ballet (with a digital Spring Season,) all need support and friendship from us.

In the meantime, they are all contributing what they do best to each of us.

Posted in #technology-and-theater, the new theater etiquette, theater, theater arts, theater folk, virtual

By virtue of the coronavirus novel

Working under strict socially-distanced guidelines is the proper thing to do while living in a pandemic. We are certain that staying away from each other is for the common good. Theater goes on, but away from its audience.

#StayHome #CreateAtHome #ViewFromHome #Staycreative

The efforts of most of New York’s theaters have focussed on keeping a connection to their loyal audiences while staying home. Keen Company has launched a QuaranKeen initiative which asks “What can Keen do for you?” Lincoln Center is offering classes and entertainment for your little ones trapped at home; it is simply, if not too cleverly, referred to as Lincoln Center AT HOME. Playwrights’ Horizons has set up plays for your ears at Soundstage; now streaming is Robert O’Hara’s Gather, and Prime by Heather Christian. The Dance Theatre of Harlem is helping us Stay Fit with free live open classes. Roundabout is offering on-line viewing as well in a series of at home with the stars videos called Roundabout Off-Script, one of which I share below:

Theater professionals want to stay connected as well as active. Their lives are about performance and communicating with their audience. Their forii are gone, for now. Or transformed into virtual spaces.

Chris Celiz, April 19, 2020

Works & Process Virtual Commissions has set up a grant to artists who have participated with Works & Process at the Guggenheim so that these artists can continue to connect, communicate and touch an audience via youtube.com, Facebook, and Instagram programming. The commissions are for short form work, mostly less than 5 minutes.

Their confirmed schedule of premieres to date is:

  • April 19 – Chris Celiz
  • April 20 – Anthony Rodriguez
  • April 26 – Kamala Sankaram and Preeti Vasudevan
  • April 27 – Conrad Tao
  • May 3 – Michael R. Jackson
  • May 4 – Nora Brown and Caleb Teicher

For details visit https://www.guggenheim.org/event/event_series/works-process.

Enjoy, as the liquor ads tell us, responsibly. Enjoy virtually!

Posted in #AmericanPsycho, #apples, #BebeNeuwirth, #BenjaminWalker, #BroadwayCares_EquityFightsAids, #Cellphone, #DiaryOfAnneFrank, #dogs, #FrancesMcDormand, #LouisOzawaChangchien, #MorganFreeman, #nuisance, #PeterGallagher, #RowAfterRow, #theatergoestothedogs, #TheCherryOrchard, #TheCountryGirl, #WarriorClass, #WendyWasserstein_AmericanDaughter, cellphones, chatter in the audience, dogs in the theater, trauma dogs, ttheater etiquette

Totally recalled

with my great aunt’s dog Bina

Isn’t it astounding how well you can remember annoyances? Some of us like to think we hold on to only the pleasant memories, but really we tend to focus on the past ills. How accurately is another issue, although I like to think I have 100% recall on disturbances past.

I think I remember where each of these incidents took place, but I know I am not 100% certain or correct in my associations.

The ones I do recall are, in order of irritant, with ringing cellphones at the top:

  • the occasion on which Bebe Neuwirth derided a patron whose cell phone went off during a Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids event just moments after the announcement to shut all phones. As usual she was merciless.
  • Louis Ozawa Changchien stayed in character in Kenneth Lin’s Warrior Class, responding to the incessant ringing by saying “It’s loud in here.”
  • Also staying in character, Benjamin Walker was menacing when a patron decided to answer the call. Walker was the titular American Psycho in the short-lived musical. We did not witness this, but heard that he said “You don’t want to have Patrick mad at you.”

Another unexpected irritant is the dog in the theater. Of course, I am equally appalled to find him/her at my grocer or bakery.

  • The occasion upon which a “trauma dog” participated in the action at an off-Broadway theater sticks in my memory, of course. I admit that it did only occur that once at a play called Row After Row.

People who come to the theater to have a nice chat with their companions are a very disturbing lot. They are legion.

  • Sometimes the chatter is excused as “I need to explain this to my little girl.” An excuse my husband was willing to accept but which just infuriated me. This was at a performance of The Diary of Anne Frank, and the mother explained to us (at intermission) that the little girl’s grandparents were Holocaust survivors.
  • A far more imaginative alibi was at a Roundabout performance of The Cherry Orchard. The lady I shushed told me other people were talking. She was, of course, referring to the actors on the stage! Of course.

Noisy audiences come in various forms. Each is a nuisance, of course, but these two were particularly creative in their peskiness:

  • We had great seats for The Country Girl starring Frances McDormand, Morgan Freeman and Peter Gallagher. We were very excited to be there, as was the man who took the aisle seat next to us. He said he knew Freeman. All was well until about midway Act I, when our new friend could not stop coughing and choking.
  • The play was Wendy Wasserstein’s American Daughter. Front row in the mezzanine at the Cort Theater, a neighboring attendee chose to have a snack. Not just any snack but in this case an apple. That packed quite the crunch.

Posted in Keen Company

Keeping It Sanitary and Staying Sane

and positive. Don’t forget the hands

QuaranKeen is keeping us connected. Today they sent us a series of YouTube videos in whcih we can wash our hands (a vital # these days) with Keen Alums.

Join in with all of them above. I will be spending a lot of time emulating their style.

These videos reminded me of an American Songbook event some years back with the talented classically trained coloratura soprano, Kristen Chenoweth in which she presciently gave a hand sanitizing demo. I don’t recall what prompted her to do this before launching into her concert at the Allen Room (Lincoln Center), but it did include her singing “Happy Birthday” while cleaning her hands.

Posted in #AloneTogether, #CNN, #DanceTheatreOfHarlem, #FrenchNationalOrchestra, #SocialDistancing, #StayHome_SaveLives, French National Orchestra, Lincoln Center, Lincoln Center Theater

Comfort Food

Thanks to a CNN morning briefing, I am listening to this #confinement_orchestra playing Ravel’s Bolero. It is as enspiriting as ever. perhaps a bit more uplifting in the current circumstances:

Arts organizations everywhere are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis it brings into our lives. Lincoln Center responded with much needed programming for kids at Lincoln Center At Home. They are also showing a Hip Hop Dance Workshop and many other enticements and delights.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem, a troupe that always did lift my spirits, is offering a Ballet Barre class today on Instagram:

Image
We’re excited to partner with our friends at Collage Dance Collective for an Instagram LIVE Ballet Barre class featuring our very own Ingrid Silva and Collage Dance Collective’s Fábio Mariano today, April 8th at 11am CDT/12pm EDT!

So much more of this kind of endeavor to stay #AloneTogether is out there for us to stay active and engaged, connected and happier. Cheers!

And in today’s in-box, April 10th, from one of the actors whose performances always pleased:

Posted in #DanceTheatreOfHarlem, #Roundabout, comedy-drama, dance, Dance Theatre of Harlem, dark drama, domestic drama, drama, musicals and dramas, New York Theatre Workshop, Roundabout Theatre Company, theater, theater arts, theater folk, theater lovers, theater space, Uncategorized

FRONT ROW CENTER

We have given up a lot to the coronavirus. For our own safety and that of those around us, we voluntarily restricted our freedom of movement (#Stay_Home) and our love of congeniality (#SocialDistancing). We traded our daily routines of work and cocktail hour for being at home and meeting via Zoom. We have become shutins and anti-social. We don’t go out except to walk six feet apart from others, just for the sake of getting some air.

What we give up when we indulge in at-home theater viewing is

  • 1. the live-actors-in-real-time theater experience
  • 2. the 4th wall
  • 2a. “great seats”
  • 3. the chance to go out, dress up and make a night of it
  • 4. the spontaneity of a flubbed line and a good save
  • 5. the in-built feedback a live audience provides

Streaming a play on-line is a different experience.

  • 1. The action is pre-recorded, or, if contemporaneous, involves only one actor
  • 2. The distance between you and the stage is filtered through a screen.
  • 2a. You still have the best seats in the house.
  • 3. You may well be in your pjs, as so many of us are these days, or workout clothes.
  • 3a. Your dinner may have been oreos or a box of mini-wheats.
  • 4. If there is a flub or a falter, it ceases to be spontaneous once taped.
  • 5.. You are likely watching alone on a laptop or tablet.
  • 5a. At most, you are likely part of an audience of 2.

The privacy of your home is a sanctuary into which you are bringing a sacred event. Cool. But not the same as experiencing theatrical expressions in a theater space.

As I said in a recent post, theater artists also yearn to stay active, contribute and engage in what they love. Audiences are part and parcel of what they love to do. Broadway World is sharing updates about shutdowns and “Living Room Concerts” with me as well as “Songs from the Vault” and “157 Musicals and Shows You Can Watch Online.” Their “Broadway Rewind” took me down memory lane to some productions I really enjoyed over the years.

Roundabout Theatre Company sent an email with encouraging tidbits, including this montage from last season’s Kiss Me Kate:


Dance Theater of Harlem reached out with a newsletter on their 50 Forward which includes a video of a signature dance by Louis Johnson, who died in March, created by him for the company in 1972. Forces of Rhythm remained in the DTH repertory alongside works by Arthur Mitchell and George Balanchine.

New York Theatre Workshop’s email announced Virtual Programming; it is no great wonder that these companies are also looking for donations to help them tide over in these tough “shutdown” days. It is remarkable how much creativity is being put to alternative use!

Posted in #LaMama, Bard, Keen Company, La Jolla Playhouse, LaMama, Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the Park, The Broadway Posdast Network, Urban Stages, virtual

Remote Access

Theater has always been the live in-person contrast to filmed entertainments. There are actors and script writers (or playwrights) as well as costume and scenic designers for both media. But in theater, the action takes place right in front of you.

Covid-19 changes that. I am reviewing, as it were, a LaMaMa production of Pananadem (Remembering) which had its New York premiere on March 12th. The work is highly stylized and a ritualized demonstration of a traditional way of presentation.

Watching it on my laptop screen is at once fulfilling and distracting. Other things keep me equally occupied while I participate with Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage broadcast. It is filmed from all angles by HowlRound TV network and is a very lively experience. The costumes are colorful and the dancing a tribute to the indigenous peoples of the southern Phillipines.

Theaters from all over are offering at home viewing (as are museums) so without boarding a plane, train or automobile, I can see a LaJolla Playhouse production of Jersey Boys or Friday’s presentation of Escape to Margaritaville or a dance session.

Closer to home, Urban Stages is offering a variety of programs to entertain your children, “keep the creative juices flowing” while stuck at home and so forth. The Broadway Podcast Network is also here to help; this one links to Bleeding Love, a post apocalyptic musical play with book by Jason Schafer, music by Arthur Lafrentz Bacon and lyrics by Harris Doran.

Keen Company cleverly calls their playlist QuaranKeen videos. There are 61 mostly solo plays to choose from, some posted before we were isolating. The effort is part of the “What can Keen Company do for you?” initiative.

For those hungering for a little Bard in their streaming, Much Ado About Nothing might help relieve the tensions of the moment. It is available on Amazon in a BBC Television Shakespeare offering and in a video from The Public Theater at the Delacorte in 2019.

Theater artists, like the rest of us, yearn to be active and engaged.

In a way, these virtual theatrical events fulfill more than just this #stay_home moment. It has been increasingly difficult for me to venture out to see live theater. Here it is coming to me!

Posted in actors, comedy-drama, costume designers, dark comedy drama, dark drama, directors, domestic drama, drama, musicals and dramas, radio drama, women directors

Virtually

NYSX – Photos Freestyle Lab Photos by Cristina Lundy

What does virtual theater look like?

We already turn to TV and film for our entertainment. Actors and directors, costumers and lighting-production designers are all employed in churning out plenty of drama, comedy, dramedy, comdremy etc.

We used to say that we can view these from the comfort of our homes. Now, we have to view them from the comfort of our homes.

It’s not live theater, nor is it multi-media, it’s just good old cinema.

The fourth wall is now my armchair.