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Ralph B. Peña. (Courtesy of Ma-Yi Theater Company)

Ma-Yi Theater Launches Digital Streaming, Live Capture Studio

The New York-based studio will be available for rent for theatre artists hoping to create high-quality digital theatre.

NEW YORK CITY: Ma-Yi Theater Company has announced the opening of Ma-Yi Studios, a digital streaming center and live capture studio giving theatremakers the ability to create new work for the screen. A glimpse of Ma-Yi Studios, which is equipped with state-of-the-art recording devices (and follows strict social distancing and safety guidelines), is available online in this digital introduction from producing artistic director Ralph B. Peña.

“When the coronavirus pandemic first broke out in Asia and Europe, I knew it had the potential to wreak havoc in the U.S.,” said Peña in a statement. “When the government shut down on March 12, forcing Ma-Yi to cancel two-thirds of our 30th anniversary season, my fears were confirmed, and I began to think of ways we could continue to work. That was how the idea for Ma-Yi Studios came about. Artists were going to be out of work, and we had to find a way to create employment opportunities for them.”

One goal of Ma-Yi Studios, in addition to producing Ma-Yi’s soon-to-be-announced 2020-21 digital season, is to be a home for New York artists struggling to create high-quality digital theatre. Rental packages are available, complete with audio, visual, and lighting package; a suite of editing tools and computers; a technician; personal protective equipment; and the ability to film or live-stream events. In following strict safety protocols, the space is also equipped with UV air scrubbers, commercial-grade air purifiers, and activated carbon-filtered air conditioning. Ma-Yi Studios will also host works of digital theatre from like-minded artists.

First up, and already currently streaming for free on ma-yistudios.com, is Sophocles in Staten Island, a work from Obie-winning actor Ron Domingo centering on a Filipino American family quarantined in Staten Island, where an overbearing homeschool father decides to make a film of Oedipus Rex and Antigone to impress the college board.

“Ma-Yi Theater Company was founded because we didn’t want other people to solve our problems,” added Peña in his statement. “It’s the same impetus that animates Ma-Yi Studios. Some will say this is not theatre, or it’s contributing to the demise of the art form. We have to set aside that kind of existential pearl clutching to focus on employing artists and craftspeople. First, let’s give them work, the artistry will follow. Our instinct to secure the means of production and distribution comes from knowing that artists and communities of color are historically left out of institutional responses to crises. We want to return the power to create and disseminate back into the hands of artists. What might happen if we had fewer obstacles, fewer gatekeepers? That is a proposition worth exploring.”

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