Like most of you, I haven’t been to a play since March, but last week I did go to Radial Park, a “Broadway-centric drive-in” movie theatre, where I watched the Royal Albert Hall film capture of The Phantom of the Opera, interspersed with live renditions of some of the Phantom’s and Christine’s songs (performed by Derrick and Ali Ewoldt, respectively). It was a little odd to sit and watch a film of a play, projected larger than life at an outdoor venue, but it was nice to be sitting next to the East River among (masked) people again.
Then earlier this week I and my family “attended” the opening of Thaddeus Phillips’s Zoo Motel, a one-man exploration of tenuous global connections, chance, and wonder, beamed live from a room in Bogota, Colombia. I listed in this space a few weeks ago, and it’s still on through Oct. 25. My colleague at the Times didn’t care for it but I and my young sons found it weirdly enchanting and even educational (I did not know the history of the waving-cat Maniko-neko figure, for one, nor the story of the mythical yet entirely real Mojave phone booth). The live multiplane animation was also disorienting in the best way.
This was also the week that Ellie Heyman and Tony Kushner gave the world The Great Work Begins, a star-studded and apparently wild anthology of scenes from Angels in America, still viewable on Broadway.com through Oct. 15. That’s how I’ll catch it, eventually. (I’m not quite able to do non-family-friendly appointment TV in prime time these days. Quarantine!)
This week’s online offerings cover a wide range of live and asynchronous, audio and visual, archived and freshly made. A few I’ve included in the “live” section will be available, like Great Work Begins, to view after the initial airing, but their live rendition still has an air of appointment TV to it, so I’ve included it in that section. Without further ado…
Since March a troupe of artists, actors, clowns, designers, musicians, stage managers, and directors formed Adventure Players Live! to create educational online entertainment for young children, ages 5-9, across the U.S. via Zoom. They’ve so far done 40 shows reaching more than 400 kids, and their current series, the Great Great Forest, kicked off last week. Still to come is Something’s Amiss in The Great Great Forest, Fri., Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. ET; Telling Fall Tales, A Playback Show, Fri., Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. ET; and The Not-So-Spooky Spooky Spooky Woods, Fri., Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. ET. Tickets are $20 per family and are available at www.adventureplayerslive.com.
San Francisco performance venue the Marsh is currently in the midst of MarshStream International Solo Fest, now through Oct. 11, featuring A One-Man Show by Skyler Cooper; Igor Meerson, Your Favorite Russian by Igor Meerson; Andy Mosely’s Make-Up; The Actual Dance by Samuel A. Simon; Rhonda S. Musak’s Rhonda Badonda: The Adventures of a Girl With a Pain in Her Brain; Not Getting Any Younger by Marga Gomez; Helen Stoltzfus’s Dispatches From the Great Burning; Aren’t You…? by Frederick Pitts; Kate Robards’s Madame Pearl; Sex & Power by Joanna Rush Wilpan; Laura Jane Bailey’s The Paris Effect; More Than That: The Formerly Incarcerated People’s Performance Project; Kathryn Keats’s The Hummingbird; Chasing Temples by Betsy Murphy; Natacha Ruck’s May the Feminine Rule; Day of the Dead Daddy by Nelsie Spencer; Steve Budd’s What They Said About Sex; Lynne Kaufman’s Who Killed Sylvia Plath; He Wants to Run by David Kleinberg; Jessica Litwak’s 50,000 Mice, the Selina Solomons Story; Evan Kent’s Shards; The Pink Hulk: One Woman’s Journey to Find the Superhero Within by Valerie David; Amy Oestreicher’s Gutless and Grateful; Hiding Anne Frank by Prudence Wright Holmes; Antonia Kasper’s 45 Coffee Dates; Ardhanarishwara: The Intersexual Being by Anuradha Naimpally; Maggie Lou Rader’s Hard Hitting 2020 News; Creative Resilience by Amelia Romano; Tain Leonard Peck’s The Last Bag; Fancifool! by Ananda Bena-Weber; Margaret Zhao’s Really Enough; Ma Ma Bird by LaTiegra Cahill; Roberta D’Alois’s California Dreamin’; The Youthful Adventures of Damon Dukirk by Kieran Carroll; Don Reed’s 8 Yrs 4 Months 11 Days: A Black Life Mattering; A Close Shave and the Argos Cycle Tour of South Africa by Colin MacLeod; Koorosh Ostowari’s Grandma’s Million Dollar Scheme; Engineering Love by Bruce Grosse; Mercilee Jenkins’s My First Boss; Not Really (Little Star) by Toby Malone; Ron Jones’s Birds; Clothing Optional by Amy Segal; Sha Sha Higby’s Clouds of Fish; Don’t Make Me Hate You by Maureen Langan; Helen Lara’s Adventures Beyond My Living Room; I Am Not My Hair by Kiki; Grama K. Jayram’s Love Needs Eternal Vigilance; So, What Are You? by Judi Le; Anne Bachy’s My New Mom; She’s No Lady by Pearl Ong. For a $25 festival pass and full access, go here.
Chicago’s 16th Street Theater is offering an audio-play-plus version of Lisa Langford’s Rastus and Hattie, a racial parable involving two friends and some brown-skinned Westinghouse robots. Adapted and directed by Lanise Antoine Shellye and recorded at Chicago’s Classick Studios, it will be paired on Vimeo with provocative illustrations created by artist Roy Thomas. It will be presented live on Fri., Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. CT, Sat. Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. CT, Thurs.-Fri., Oct. 15-16 at 7 p.m. CT, Sat. Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. CT, Thurs.-Fri. Oct. 22-23 at 7 p.m. CT, and Sat., Oct. 24 at 4 p.m. Tickets are on a sliding scale between $5 and $30.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Shakespeare on this list, but Pennsylvania’s Phoenix Theatre is here to set that right with an online production of Henry VI, Part III, featuring, according to a press release, “Zoom, stop-frame videos for battle sequences, original composed music, hand-painted virtual landscapes, actors in modern dress, and in-the-moment acting.” It will air Fri.-Sat., Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. ET and Sun., Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. ET. It’s free but a donation of $20 per household is encouraged.
Philadelphia’s Temple Theaters are offering Women on Love, a song cycle written by Temple University alumna Katya Stanislavskya. It will stream Fri.-Sat., Oct. 9-10 at 7:30 p.m. ET. It’s free but registration is required.
The Negro Ensemble Company, one of the seminal American theatres and incubators of talent, is still a going concern, and tonight they’re hosting the second installment of their NEC Zoom Short Play Series, “This World Was Made for All Men—and Women,” a 10-minute play competition that will be livestreamed from Contra Studios in Manhattan. Contenders include Cris Eli Blak’s The Moors, Christine Hsu’s I Love You But…, Carlos Jerome’s Counting Pedestals, and Devin Porter’s Rite of Passage. A panel of judges will vote on the winning play, and viewers can weigh in too. It all starts here on Fri., Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. ET, and can be viewed. (It will be viewable in the future here.)
Following their acclaimed 43 Plays for 43 Presidents, the Neo-Futurists will livestream 45 Plays for America’s First Ladies, a chronological series of one- to five-minute plays over the course of 90 minutes in a variety of shapes, tones, and theatrical styles. Featuring ensemble members from the Chicago, New York and San Francisco Neo-Futurists under the direction of Denise Yvette Serna, it streams Fri., Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. CT and Sun., Oct. 11 at 2 p.m.; a full digital recording will be available for viewing Oct. 13-Nov. 2. Tickets are $15.
Chicago’s Artists Lounge Live is joining with arts organizations around the country to present the virtual concert event Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland, which will stream live on Sun., Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. CT. This two-hour concert will feature a six-piece orchestra back Ingersoll on such iconic numbers as “Over the Rainbow,” “The Trolley Song,” “Get Happy,” and “The Man That Got Away.” A talkback with online audience members will immediately follow the performance. Tickets are $35, with proceeds going to organizations supporting artists during the pandemic and can be purchased via any one of a group of participating organizations: San Diego Repertory Theatre, Laguna Playhouse, the Goodspeed, Marriott Theatre, Max & Louie Productions, and AD Players at the George.
The Play On Shakespeare effort to translate the Bard into contemporary English rolls on with a reading of Ranjit Bolt’s translation of Much Ado About Nothing by Derby, U.K.’s 1623 Theatre Company. We’ve already missed a special reading of Act 4; coming up on Mon., Oct. 12 at 2:30 p.m. ET, they’ll do a reading of Act 5; but if you want to hold out to hear the whole thing, tune in on Mon., Oct. 19 at 2:30 p.m. They’ll all be at Play On’s YouTube page.
Philadelphia classical troupe Quintessence Theatre Group will livestream Shout into the Void: A Virtual Play Reading Festival, every Monday evening through Nov. 2, with recordings available to view online through the following Friday. The festival kicks off with Githa Sowerby’s Rutherford and Son, which begins streaming Mon., Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. ET. Written in 1912 during the British feminist movement, Rutherford and Son is a sharp critique of the patriarchal Northern England industrial system. Tax-deductible single tickets start at $10, with festival passes starting at $30.
Florida’s Palm Beach Dramaworks will kick off its new Contemporary Voices online series, in which they’ll dedicate each month to works by a different playwright. First up is a series of readings of plays by two-time Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage. On Mon., Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET is Intimate Apparel, Nottage’s period drama about a seamstress, scheduled for a full production when PBD returns to the theatre next season.Then on Mon., Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET is her contemporary working-class drama Sweat; on Mon., Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. ET, her family drama Crumbs From the Table of Joy will get a reading. PBD will also host discussion of the work on Wed., Oct 14, 21, and 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tickets are free but reservations are required.
Keith Hamilton Cobb’s American Moor, an interrogation of Othello and Black stereotypes, will get what’s billed as an “informal benefit reading,” for Red Bull Theatre, which staged the play to acclaim last year, on Mon., Oct. 12 at 7:30 ET. Tickets are free but reservations are recommended.
Chicago’s PlayMakers Laboratory is ringing in the fall with a special line-up of Halloween-, election-, and Thanksgiving-themed performances of its popular online revue That’s Weird, Grandma: House Par-Tay, a series of stories written by elementary school students, adapted and performed by PML’s professional actors. They’ll start streaming every Monday for eight weeks starting next week, with the lineup as follows: Mon., Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. ET, The Best of… That’s Weird, Grandma; on Mon., Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. ET, Halloween Spectacular Part I; on Mon., Oct, 26 at 8 p.m. ET, Halloween Spectacular Part II; on Mon., Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. ET, Rock the Vote; on Mon., Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. ET, The Best of…That’s Weird, Grandma; on Mon., Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. ET, The Best of…That’s Weird, Grandma; on Mon., Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. ET, A Thoughtful Thanksgiving; and on Mon, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. ET, The Best of…That’s Weird, Grandma. Tickets (in the form $2-$4 subscriptions) are currently available at playmakerslab.org.
Dallas’s Cara Mía Theatre and Soul Rep Theatre have revived their Café/Negro Series with the regional premiere of Dael Orlandersmith’s My Red Hand, My Black Hand, offered in audio form, presented in conjunction with Indigenous Direction and Weatherford College. Orlandersmith is a young half-Indigenous and half-African American woman’s retelling of the past, present, and future of her parent’s love, interwoven with the clashing cultural prejudices they encountered. Directed by Guinea Bennett-Price, with original music by Fredrick Sanders, it premieres on Mon., Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. CT, and thereafter through Nov. 8 on the following schedule: Thurs.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10.
L.A. comedy mainstay the Groundlings is beaming directly into audience’s homes with a series of sketch and improv shows. Next up is Eating in Front of the TV With Laraine Newman & Emily Fleming, a mock-webinar on its title topic. That’s up on Tues., Oct 13 at 6 p.m. PT. Tickets are $10.
The fourth play in Paula Vogel’s popular online reading series Bard at the Gate will be Dan LeFranc’s Origin Story, a tale of teenagers solving a crime with clues provided by a comic book. It’s scheduled to debut on Wed., Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. ET. on the series’ YouTube channel. Following the 80-minute reading, the playwright will join Vogel and director Christopher Bayes for a discussion on Zoom. The play reading will be available to view until Sun., Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. ET.
The Brooklyn company Irondale is presenting a four-part virtual encore of its 2012 production, Color Between the Lines: Good Trouble, a musical theatre piece about the history of the abolitionist struggle in the borough, created with the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Weeksville Heritage Center. The first part streamed last week, the remaining three air Oct. 15, 22, and 29 at 7 p.m. ET. The event is pay what you can, with a suggested donation of $15.
Protests against Belarusian dictator Lukashenko continue, many led by theatre people, and you can count the play Scattering Ravens among the acts of protest. Now screening here through Fri., Oct. 9 at 12 p.m., this play by young Belarusian playwright Olga Prusak explores the prominent Belarusian-Jewish poet Moyshe Kulbak, who was killed by the Russian secret police, and it was made as part of the Belarusian/Jewish Theatre Festival, under difficult conditions, with artists in London and Minsk working together remotely, and with the support of HUNCHTheatre.
Chicago’s Congo Square Theatre Company is debuting a new bi-weekly sketch comedy series, Hit ’Em on the Blackside, premiering Fri., Oct. 9, on its Instagram and Facebook pages. The series is directed by Anthony Irons, who promises “gut-punching, thought-provoking, laugh-out-loud satire, with some deep, artistic kinda stuff thrown in for good measure.”
While South Carolina’s schools are mostly open—and COVID cases are surging in the state—Charleston’s PURE Theater pays tribute to educational heroes with a virtual production of Nilaja Sun’s No Child, the acclaimed Off-Broadway play about the challenges faced by a Bronx schoolteacher staging Our Country’s Good with her students, starring Joy Vandervort-Cobb, reprising her role from the PURE’s 2015 Piccolo Spoleto production. It is available to watch now through Oct. 22. Tickets start at $15.
As part of its On Air 2020-21 season, Portland, Ore.’s Profile Theatre will offer an audio rendition of Lynn Nottage’s Mlima’s Tale, about an “big-tusker” elephant hunted and killed for its ivory. Starring Keith Randolph Smith, with original music by Jenn Mundia, it is now available for streaming through Wed., Nov. 4, for a sliding-scale price starting at $10.
One of the shows on Oregon Shakespeare Festival AD Nataki Garrett’s résumé that has always intrigued me is one she created a few years back with Andrea LeBlanc for the Cal Arts Center for New Performance, The Carolyn Bryant Project. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, Bryant was the white Mississippi woman who, after a brief exchange with a Black teenager named Emmett Till in 1955, concocted an accusation that he’d whistled at her, for which alleged crime Till was lynched by a white mob. An archived video of the show’s 2018 run at REDCAT in Los Angeles will stream for free on CNP’s digital platform Fri., Oct. 9-Thurs., Oct. 22.
A new outfit in Portland, Ore., the Theatre Company, has kicked off a mini-season of audio plays in podcast form, with its first titles being Jen Silverman’s meta-Gothic melodrama The Moors , available Fri., Oct. 9 to Sun. Oct. 24, and Caryl Churchill’s witchcraft-trial inquest Vinegar Tom, available Fri., Oct. 30 to Sat., Nov. 14. Each are $10 to purchase.
This is your last weekend to catch a free reading of Natalie Margolin’s comedy The Party Hop, as part of Dramatists Play Service’s DPS On Air series. Starring Beanie Feldstein, Ben Platt, and Ashley Park, Margolin’s Zoom play imagines a dystopian reality three years into quarantine, in which socializing is still confined to the virtual realm. It’s up here through Oct. 10.
L.A.’s Independent Shakespeare Company recently offered audiences a hybrid stage-and-film rendition of Romeo & Juliet, and they’re now making it available to stream for free, Oct. 12-18. In addition to the performance itself, audiences can also catch up with the production’s character via social media (Mercutio’s sword-obsessed Twitter, Paris’s Instagram, Benvolio’s photographer portfolio, the apothecary’s Facebook page).
Continuing its series of archival recordings, L.A.’s Latino Theater Company will make Evelina Fernandez’s A Mexican Trilogy, Part 2: Hope, which catches up with the fictional Morales family during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, available to view between Tues., Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. PT and Thurs., Oct. 22 at 11:59 p.m. PT. An online conversation with the artists will take place on Wed, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. ET (and be available to view for 10 days following). It’s all free here.
Showdogs NYC Theater Collective were all set to debut their first full-length original show when the pandemic hit. So they did the obvious: They made a TV series, Wormholes, a no-budget “science fiction comedy” in which a starving poet and a social media influencer discover an interdimensional portal in the closet of their NY apartment. It debuts Wed., Oct. 14 on Instagram and on the Showdogs NYC YouTube channel.
Dallas’s Undermain Theatre was in our listings a few weeks back with an archived production of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present…, but they deserve another mention for Virtual Undermain, a new digital platform featuring work created for the virtual stage. It kicked off this week with St. Nicholas, Conor McPherson’s solo play about a drama critic who unexpectedly becomes a vampire, with Underman producing artistic director Bruce DuBose reprising a role he originally played in 2001. Directed by Blake Hackler, it’s available to stream now through Sun., Oct. 25. Tickets are $15.
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s new online initiative, Voices of Democracy, part of its TheatreWorks from Home series, is currently offering a stream of a film of its 2018 production of Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths, a stirring play about a Japanese American who passionately defends his Constitutional rights against an unexpected adversary: his own country. It’s available now through Tues., Nov. 3, with tickets on a sliding scale of $10-$100.
Pasadena Playhouse’s ambitious PlayhouseLive platform kicks off with a presentation by a beloved Southland treasure, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, which offers The Circus, filmed in front of a live audience, now through Nov. 18, for a rental of $14.99. PlayhouseLive plans to bring Baker’s Hallowe’en SpOoKtAcUlAr and exclusively Holiday on Strings directly into homes for the first time. Also available through PlayhouseLive is Javon Johnson’s Still, a timely reflection on the complexities of the Black experience; that is available now through Nov. 1 for a rental of $19.99. Go here to find out about these and other PlayhouseLive offerings.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival is making a recording of its free Shakespeare in the Park production of Macbeth, directed by Darnell Benjamin, available to stream at no charge here.
Alvarez Keko Salazar Productions is presenting Poseidon Theatre Company’s Drama, billed as “an aural experience,” i.e., a podcast. Written by Jeffrey James Keyes, ths “short story” audio drama series will delve into the supernatural and the unknown; its first offering, Imaginary Friends, is about childhood hauntings. It’s available for free on major audio platforms.
Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. This Giving Season, please join us in this mission by making a donation to our publisher, Theatre Communications Group. When you support American Theatre magazine and TCG, you support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism. Click here to make your fully tax-deductible donation today!