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!