What day is it, exactly? Is this the day Godot said he’d come? But weren’t we here yesterday?
Apologies for the brain fart—it’s happening a lot lately. Maybe you know what I’m talking about, as Groundhog Day, a.k.a. the pandemic lockdown, stretches into day 182 (give or take, but who’s counting?). The recent Labor Day holiday threw me off my game with this weekly listing; apologies for that too.
After doing this for a while, I’ve found that these virtual offerings don’t always organize themselves neatly into “appointment viewing” vs. “streaming windows,” as some companies like to create a sense of occasion around an initial livestream, but also leave the material up for a while. This week, however, apart from a few instances (Red Bull’s Revenger’s Tragedy and Richard Nelson’s latest bite of the Apple family), there fall into two pretty well defined categories: mark-your-calendars-and-be-there-with-bells-on vs. catch-when-you-can-insomniacs-welcome.
Get a glimpse into the new-play development process as Monty Cole offers a virtual staged reading of Black Like Me, based on the controversial 1961 memoir of the same name by white reporter John Howard Griffin, who darkened skin to experience life as a Black man “firsthand.” Cole’s theatrical adaptation is billed as an “entertaining noir docu-drama” that “examines the fine line between allyship and appropriation.” Originally scheduled as part of the Ignition Festival at Chicago’s Victory Gardens (but withdrawn in protest over that theatre’s leadership changes), it is now presented by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, one time only, Thurs., Sept. 10, 7:30 pm CDT. It’s free but reservations are required.
Short-lived Seattle supergroup Temple of the Dog played its last notes nearly 30 years ago, but four years ago the band’s eponymous album inspired a full-length theatrical production in its hometown, Everyone Wants to Love Your Beating Heart, and now that show will get an online revival courtesy of Playlist Seattle and Trial and Error Productions. Created by director and Playlist founder Kelly McMahon and playwright Stacy D. Flood, the new production plans to “meld performance with live video manipulation via digital platforms to bring actors and audiences together.” It will be streamed live via Zoom on Sept. 11, 12, 17, and 18. Tickets are $10-35, with proceeds going to MusiCares and Road Recovery.
A production of Chekhov’s early anti-hero play Ivanov will stream live on Sept. 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. EDT, in a production by students of the school theatre, film, and media arts at Philadelphia’s Temple University, directed by Professor Marcus Giamatti. The performances are free but viewership is limited and attendees must register here.
Durational theatre meets interactive theatre meets online theatre with OneIronaut, a production of the Outer Loop Theater Experience and NYU Tisch alum Kayla Zanakis, in which audiences can interact with characters and help them navigate a world like no other over a 24-hour period starting Sat., Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. EDT. The scenario imagines the year 2090 as a time when nature has taken back what’s hers and people live between dreaming and waking; participants will follow five suspects throughout the time period via various platforms, with a culminating climactic event determined by audience input. Tickets range in price from $50 to $100 and are available here through Sept. 10.
New York City’s Metropolitan Playhouse, known for rescuing undersung vintage American plays, kicks off a fall reading series with Cocaine by Pendleton King, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. EDT. This one-act drama, originally staged by the Provincetown Players in their 1916-17 season, follows a failing prostitute and a washed-up prize fighter living in a squalid one-room attic off the Bowery. After its 30-minute running time will be a live talkback with Jeffery Kennedy, the author of the forthcoming Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players. Tickets are free but donations are encouraged.
Jeff Daniels (yes, that Jeff Daniels) is helping William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., kick off its fall 2020 virtual performance season with an intimate livestreamed concert, Sat., Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. EDT. The evening will feature original songs and stories from Daniels, who in addition to his acting career has performed as a musician in more than 500 clubs and performing arts centers across the United States. Following the concert, Daniels will participate in a Q&A session. Tickets are $15.
Theatre is one way we imagine a different reality, right? That’s one way to describe Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual bipartisan event, in which members of Congress and other D.C. influencers from both sides of the aisle take a break from not talking to each other to gather for a benefit reading of a Shakespeare adaptation. This year it’s Will on the Hill…or Won’t They?, a cheeky take on Romeo and Juliet written by Nat Cassidy, airing Mon., Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. EDT. The cast will feature students from STC’s Virtual Camp Shakespeare, a summer-long program that brings the Bard’s plays to life for children ages 7 to 18, alongside such part-time thespians as Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Sen. Angus King (I-ME), among more than a dozen others. (For a bit of the Queen’s English, two ringers from the U.K. will join the proceedings: Dame Karen Pierce, Britain’s ambassador to the U.S., and Ian Lidell-Granger, a member of Parliament.) Pay-what-you-will tickets benefit STC’s education programs.
Richard Nelson’s Apple family plays, which have been going since the Obama’s first term, keep on rolling through the pandemic, reflecting up-to-the-minute concerns and anxieties of his almost-too-real characters. The final play in what he’s calling his Rhinebeck Panorama trilogy is Incidental Moments of the Day, which will air on Thurs., Sept. 10 at 7:30 EDT, and be available for streaming on YouTube for eight weeks following through Nov. 5. Viewers in the U.S. will be asked to donate to Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF), which distributes emergency assistance to theatre directors and choreographers in need.
The three-character Broadway comedy Lifespan of a Fact, about the boundaries of truth and journalism, will get a multimedia presentation by Madison, Wisc.’s Forward Theater Company which can be viewed (once) any time between Sept. 11 and 27. Those who crave a sense of occasion should make sure to reserve tickets before Sept. 11 so they can join an opening night watch party on Zoom, Fri., Sept. 11 at 6:15 p.m. Prices range from $10 to $40.
Houston’s Stages continues its virtual season with the regional premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s one-woman play A Woman of the World, a portrait of the accomplished 19th century editor and world traveler Mabel Loomis Todd, starring Sally Edmundson. Digitally captured performance in a socially distanced performance in July (it was rehearsed via Zoom, and designers carted their set and lighting work into Edmundson’s home to film the performance), it will be viewable online for free Sept. 11-20. It’s free but reservations are required.
One of the most acclaimed New York productions of 2017, the Wooster Group and Eric Berryman’s The B-Side: “Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons,” A Record Album Interpretation, is now streaming for free on the company’s website through Mon., Sept. 14. It’s directed by Kate Valk.
After a bumpy start with the virtual reading racket, New York’s unstoppable Red Bull Theater has taken to online theatre with a vengeance, so it’s only proper that their 2020-’21 season kicks off with a one-night-only benefit reunion reading of the bloody Jacobean thriller The Revenger’s Tragedy, on Mon., Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with a recording available for viewing through Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. EDT. Tickets are free but donations are welcome.
Berkeley’s Central Works launches its new audio-play program with Bystanders by Patricia Milton. Originally scheduled to close the theatre’s 30th season, Milton’s play takes place in a culture inundated with news of everyday shootings as two citizens struggle to understand their duties as bystanders. It’s directed by Gary Graves and viewable for free beginning Sept. 15.
Also in the audio realm is the final installment in a three-part series called El Teatro de la Comida from Costa Mesa, Calif.’s South Coast Repertory. Ten Dollar Taco, written and directed by Juliette Carillo, is described as “part fantasy, part adventure, and part archeological dig,” and will be available Sept. 14-20 on podcast channels and Youtube. Tickets for Ten Dollar Taco are free, but reservations are required.
The internet is the setting, in a sense, for Sarah Gancher’s Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy, directed by Jared Mezzochi. If you missed the piece’s innovative multimedia reading a few weeks ago (as part of the Arkansas New Play Festival), you can catch it online between now and Sun., Sept. 20. Full festival passes are $45 but single tickets are pay what you can.
A global festival is kicking off next week and it looks ambitious and exciting. It’s called No Labels No Walls + We Are One, and it’s going to feature more than 50 events from all over the world—art, music, dance, discussions, workshops, talks and other performances—streamed through its website and other digital platforms. It runs Mon., Sept. 14-Sat., Sept. 19. Helsinki-based Markus Vähälä is the main coordinator, and its three co-presenting organizations are Finland’s Kukunori, the Strindberg Laboratory in Los Angeles, and We Are One community in Glasgow. But the fest promises work from South Africa, Sweden, India, Turkey, and more.
And finally, Solano Beach, Calif.’s North Coast Repertory presents a momentous debate between Frederic Douglass and Abraham Lincoln in Richard Hellesen’s Necessary Sacrifices, in a full theatrical staging that was filmed during the production’s final tech rehearsals under director Peter Ellenstein. (For those keeping score, it’s under a SAG New Media contract.) It will stream Sept. 9-Oct. 11; tickets are $25.
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