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!