Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet, but the cornucopia of digital/virtual/whatever-you-call-this-form is already bursting; this is the largest listing of this kind we have yet compiled. A recent study showed that in the absence of live, in-person theatre, this programming is finding eager adopters among loyal patrons as well as new audiences. So it’s working? As a COVID-choked winter gapes ahead of us—but a promising vaccine lurks on the foreseeable horizons—folks are finding vestiges of the art form and community they cherish to get them through. If the tunnel now has a light at the end of it, it also has some lights along the way.
Without further ado…
Dallas Children’s Theater is offering the final in a series of Idris Goodwin’s social justice plays, #Matter. Recommended for ages 14 and up, the play features two former high school friends debating matters of life and race, and is available to stream for free now through Nov. 16. A live talkback will be offered on Fri., Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. CT.
A Noise Within in Pasadena, Calif., is offering LA Escena 2020, the second edition of Los Angeles’ Festival of Hispanic classical theatre, presented in a partnership with UCLA’s Diversifying the Classics and Playwrights’ Arena in Los Angeles. This mostly virtual international festival, already begun, continues with Don Carlos: Prince of Asturias, streaming Fri., Nov 13 at 4 p.m. PST in English (no Spanish subtitles), presented by L.A.’s Oscar Emmanuel Fabela. On Fri., Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. PST is Golden Tongues I: The King of Maricopa County, an adaptation of Lope de Vega’s El castigo sin venganza (Punishment without Revenge), presented by L.A.’s Playwrights’ Arena in English (no Spanish subtitles). On Sat., Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. PST, viewers will have a choice of a Spanish or English audio experience presented by Madrid’s [los números imaginarios] & Bella Betalla. On Sat., Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. PST is Quijóteres Puppet Show from Dragoncillo Puppet Troupe, available on demand for Spanish and English-speaking patrons presented. On Sat., Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. PST is Y es mayor dolor la ausencia que la muerte, which puts the texts of Sor Juana in conversation with 12 female artists under lockdown, presented by Madrid’s grumelot in Spanish (with English subtitles). On Sat., Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. PST is Golden Tongues II: The Woodingle Puppet Show, Julie Taiwo Oni’s riff on Miguel de Cervantes’ Retablo de las maravillas (The Marvelous Puppet Show), presented by L.A.’s Playwrights’ Arena in English (no Spanish subtitles). The next day’s offerings begin on Sun., Nov. 15 at 10 a.m. PST with Quijotes y Sanchos, another Spanish-or-English audio experience from Madrid’s [los números imaginarios] & Bella Betalla in Madrid, Spain. Next, on Sun., Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. PST will be Canciones de Olmedo, a musical adaptation of Lope de Vega’s The Knight of Olmedo presented by Jóvenes Clásicos & Teatro del Soho Caixa Bank in Málaga, Spain, in Spanish (with English subtitles).is a melancholy, nostalgic song to love and the end of love. On Sun., Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. PST is Golden Tongues III: What We Pay For Likes, inspired by Juan Ruiz de Alarcón’s Los empeños de un engaño (What We Owe Our Lies), presented by L.A.’s Playwrights’ Arena. The festival concludes on Mon., Nov. 16 at 4:30 p.m. with The Courage to Right a Woman’s Wrongs, by one of the Spanish Golden Age’s most accomplished female playwrights, Ana Caro, presented by New York City’s Red Bull Theater in English (no Spanish subtitles). Tickets to all festival events are free.
I haven’t been in a retail store yet this year (and don’t expect to be in one any time soon, come to think of it), so I haven’t yet heard the predictable, slightly chilling early-November onslaught of Christmas music. But the holiday season has already begun at some theatres: At Connecticut Repertory Theatre in Storrs, Conn., they’re staging It’s A Wonderful Life in the style of a vintage 1940s radio play, adapted by Philip Grecian from the Frank Capra film. Jennifer Scapetis-Tycer directs a cast of 14 performers, including Thom Sesma and Lisa Wolpe. Performances began last night and continue now through Sat., Nov., 21 at 8 p.m. ET. All performances are being recorded and then streamed online; an ASL-interpreted performance will be offered Sat., Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. ET. Tickets are $10 for students, $14 for seniors and UConn faculty and staff, and $16 for the general public.
And in Chicago, the American Blues Theater is adapting their radio-play version of It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, now in its 19th annual iteration, as a live interactive Zoom play. Directed by Gwendolyn Whiteside, with musical direction by Michael Mahler, their version started its online run last night and will run now through Jan. 2, 2021, at various evening and afternoon showtimes; tickets are $25-55, and can be purchased here.
Cherry Artists’ Collective in Ithaca, N.Y., is offering the English-language world premiere of A Day, written by Québecoise playwright Gabrielle Chapdelaine, about four mysteriously connected characters who guide one another through the obstacles, large and small, of an ordinary day. The play will be live-streamed from the historic State Theater in Ithaca Fri., Nov. 13, Sat., Nov. 14, Thurs., Nov. 19, Fri., Nov. 20, and Sat., Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m ET. Tickets are $15-45 and are available for advance purchase here.
Temple Theatres, at Philly’s Temple University, are offering Iron John: an American Ghost Story, a new musical based on the Grimm Fairy Tale, Der Eisenhans (or Iron John), adapted by Jacinth Greywoode and Rebecca Hart. Their version sets the tale in a small Southern town a century ago, with a love triangle ending in an act of racial violence that now seems to repeat in every generation. Christopher Windom will direct. Iron John will stream live Fri., Nov. 13 and Sat., Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tickets are free and can be reserved online.
Live from New York’s Downtown mainstay the Tank is Harsh Cacophonies I & II, created and performed by Kev Berry and directed by Alex Tobey. Berry’s full-length monologue looks into the intersection of queerness and the things that hold us back from attaining an impossible perfection. It will stream live on Fri., Nov. 13 and Sat., Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. ET. Tickets range $10-30.
Open Stage in Harrisburg, Pa., is offering Poirot Investigates!, a comedy/mystery based on an Agatha Christie short story starring her most famous creation, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The show runs Fri.-Sat. through Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. ET, and Sundays through Nov. 22 at 3 p.m. ET. It’s free but donations and reservations are encouraged.
New York City’s Primary Stages is offering discounted $5 tickets to two upcoming virtual productions. Now through Sun., Nov. 15 is Soil Beneath: An Empirical Decay by Chesney Snow, a choreopoem about race in America and its intersection with the Black Lives Matter movement & the pandemic; and next week, Wed., Nov. 18-Sun., Nov. 22, Charlayne Woodard’s The Night Watcher, a solo show about the various definitions of parenthood. All run Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. ET and Thurs., Sat., Sun. at 2 p.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased in advance online via 59E59.org using the code PSFRIEND at checkout.
If you’re in the mood for mind games, Reconnected features mentalist Jason Suran in what’s billed as “an unforgettable evening of psychological astonishments,” as Suran performs intimate and interactive acts of mind reading. Co-produced by Adam Rei Siegel, Reconnected will be offered every Friday and Saturday, from Fri., Nov. 13 through Sat., Dec. 19, at 8:30 p.m. ET, with subsequent performances on Fridays, Dec. 25-Jan. 15.. Tickets are $50 and the show is recommended for ages 13 and up.
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley in Redwood Shores, Calif., and Stanford University have partnered to present New Works Next Generation, a three-day virtual theatre festival featuring three new plays about feminism, ethnicity, and religion. The festival’s lineup includes Man of God, by Anna Meonch, directed by Marina J. Bergenstock, Sun., Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. PST; Zac and Siah or, Jesus in a Body Bag, written and directed by Jeffrey Lo, offered Mon., Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. PST; and Baby Camp, by Nandita Shenoy, directed by Suhaila Meera, offered Tues., Nov. 17 ay 7 p.m. PST. Each performance will be followed by a post-show Q&A. Tickets are free but reservations are recommended.
Produced by MT Shorts, High School Zoomsical is a short digital musical made in quarantine, told entirely through a computer, starring Frozen’s Ryann Redmond and Kay Brown (from the Instagram channel Betches), and directed by Jess Ryan. Tickets are free but donations to raise money for the Fund for College Auditions, which help underrepresented communities access college BFA programs, are encouraged. The one-time performance is Sun., Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. EST. Reserve here.
L.A.’s Echo Theater Company culminates its National Young Playwrights in Residence program with a two-week “virtual festival” of online readings. Created to nurture the next generation of playwrights, the program selected six participants, aged 18-26, from over 200 applicants, pairing each with an established playwright via video chat and voice calls to create a new play. The six readings, which will stream for free (donations accepted), include CL Byrd’s Over the World on Sat., Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. PST; Sleep/Wake by Yael Haskal, on Sun., Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. PST; The Man Who Lived Five Lives by Rachel Saruski, on Thurs., Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. PST; Where Angels Fear to Tread by Xavier Clark, on Fri., Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. PST; and Agnes by Norma Lilia Ruiz Cruz, on Sat., Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. (A sixth play, by Phanésia Pharel, has been postponed until December.)
The Shed in New York City is presenting the premiere of Solo B by Mariana Valencia as part of their digital commissioning program Up Close. Framed by Valencia’s research in the Mediterranean region, ephemera collected from her mother’s youth, and other references, Solo B is billed as “a deep examination of notions of beauty, rupture, and healing.” The performance will be accessible for free and premiere on Mon, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. ET on the Shed’s website and on its Instagram, and will subsequently be available on the Shed’s YouTube channel for viewing on demand.
American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., is streaming a play by a “theatremaker to watch” (American Theatre, if we don’t mind saying) Sara Porkalob, whose Dragon Mama is part of ART’s Virtually OBERON series. Traversing 25 years filled with queer love in a barren land, Dragon Mama features ghosts, Filipino gangsters, and a dope ’90s R&B soundtrack. It’s available now through Thurs., Dec. 10 on demand for 48 hours, with household tickets priced at $30 (with a pay-what-you-can option available). ART will also host Porkalob, composer Brian Quijada, and director Andrew Russell for a “behind the scenes” conversation about the development of another work, Dragon Baby, on Mon, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET; tickets are $20 (with a pay-what-you-can option available).
New York-based Stars in the House teams with Gingold Theatrical Group director David Staller for a starry reading of Shaw’s Man & Superman, featuring Robert Cuccioli, Claybourne Elder, Santino Fontana, Nikki M. James, Christine Toy Johnson, Rob McClure, John-Andrew Morrison, Margaret Odette, Vishaal Reddy, and Lenny Wolpe. One of Shaw’s most enduringly delightful, iconic, and yet least known plays, it will be (almost) completely, in Staller’s pithy but substantially cut two-and-a-half-hour adaptation. It will air live on Mon., Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. ET, and will remain online for four days after the initial broadcast. It’s all free but donations to raise money for the Actors’ Fund are encouraged.
New York Theatre Workshop is offering </remnant>, a virtual performance conceived and created by Theater Mitu and directed by Rubén Polendo. This interactive virtual performance, developed from hours of interviews, weaves together found text, video and film, and interactive web design to explore loss, death, and what is left behind. Interactive performances stream on a dedicated platform at various showtimes Mon., Nov. 16 through Tues., Nov. 24. Tickets are $10 and are available through NYTW’s website.
Baryshnikov Arts Center and Mart Foundation present the world premiere screening of SOS (The Song of Songs), created by visual and performance artist Vera Martynov and composer Alexey Sysoev. This hybrid performance work from Russia—essentially a dance with a choir, featuring soloists from the acclaimed Intrada Vocal Ensemble—was scheduled to have its U.S. premiere at BAC in March but was canceled due to COVID-19. The performance, reconceived as a media installation, was originally inspired by a translation of the Bible’s Song of Songs, the letters of Pliny the Younger, and Martynov’s diaries. Performed in both English and Russian, SOS (The Song of Songs) will be available to stream for free Tues., Nov. 17-Fri., Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. ET. Ekaterina Antonenko directs and Nikita Chumakov choreographs.
New York City’s Irish Repertory Theatre will present On Beckett / In Screen as part of their Performance on Screen series. Conceived and Performed by the indispensable Bill Irwin, the production, which premiered at Irish Rep in 2018, mines the physical and verbal depths of Beckett in the time of COVID. Performances are at various times Tues., Nov. 17-Sun., Nov. 22. Reservations are free but required in advance, and a donation of $25 per viewer is suggested.
Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown, N.J., closes its 2020 Women Playwrights Series with Emmy winner Patricia Cotter’s I’ll Give You Something To Cry About, offered both in person (seats are sold out) and streaming live on Wed., Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET. It’s described as “a ruthless comedy about sisters, the meaning of family, responsibility and the power of letting go.” Advance reservations are recommended and require a $5 minimum donation. More information here.
San Francisco’s PlayGround has announced an expanded lineup of programming for this year’s secnd annual Innovators Showcase, featuring new works by the 2020 Innovator Incubator Cohort. These include the Forum Collective’s Ether, a three-part anthology of interconnected stories of the COVID-19 quarantine, inspired by interviews with real people, devised by Francisco Rodriguez of the Mexican American Theatre Conservatory and Marisa Gabriela Ramos, which will air Wed., Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. PT, Sat., Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. PT, and Sun., Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. PT. Next is Kunoichi Productions’ presentation of The True Tale of Princess Kaguya by Ai Aida, a modern metatheatrical retelling of the Japanese classic folk story Kaguyahime, translated as “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” running Fri., Nov. 20-Sun., Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. PT. Next Juneteenth Theatre Justice Projects’ production of Willie Jones III’s topical comedy Black Face Matters, Mon., Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. PT. Closing out November is Poltergeist Theatre Project’s I Am Dracula: a Docudrama Experiment, adapted by Chris Steele, Fri., Nov 27-Mon., Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. PT. The Moonrisers’ mind-bending Baboons in the Nighthouse by Christopher Magee is next, Wed., Dec. 2-Thurs., Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. PT. Finally, Theatre Cultura presents Corazón of a Latina by Linda Amayo-Hassan, a play about Latinas living, thriving, struggling, and coping in the United States, Fri., Dec. 4-Sat., Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. PT.
New York City’s Episcopal Actors’ Guild is offering Black Voices, an evening of short play readings featuring Black playwrights and casts, curated by Omar M’Sai, Thurs., Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. ET. These include Jo’Siah Shan’s Miranda’s Book, directed by Natae Bush, about a woman facing tragedy and finding solace in Walt Whitman; Little Black Bear, written and directed by Christopher Raishun Marshall, about Marshall’s own Choctaw great grandparents; and 52nd Floor, written and directed by Karen L. Smith, about an impending miracle. Tickets range $0-25.
L.A.’s Cornerstone Theater Company presents its first play developed through an online community engagement process, Highland Park Is Here, written by Mark Valdez and directed by Michael John Garcés. From the murals and music to the taqueros, tamaleros, and low-rider parades, from the gardens to the hills, the arroyo and the people, the show recounts the stories—past and present—of this beloved L.A. neighborhood at a moment of profound change. Performances will stream on YouTube Thurs., Nov. 19-Sun., Nov. 22 at 7:30 PST, with a matinee on Sun., Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. PST. Tickets are free but donations are encouraged.
Here’s one I might need to try with my own munchkins at home: Tony-winning producer Eva Price and the 2020 Webby-winning Story Pirates have partnered to produce Sleep Squad, an immersive virtual theatre experience for families that creates a new bedtime routine for kids ages 4 to 12. Directed by Jennifer Weber and starring Lilli Cooper, Sleep Squad is adapted from stories written by kids and takes viewers on three different adventures: a desert island, a dinosaur’s birthday party, and an intergalactic nightclub. Tickets to the virtual performances include a “dreamtime travel kit,” complete with dream journal, sleep mask, and star machine, delivered right to each family’s home. Available dates currently range from Thurs., Nov. 19 to Fri., Jan. 1, 2021. Tickets are $50, with additional kits available for purchase for $15 for any families with more than one child.
We missed listing the live broadcast of Vichet Chum’s Kween, a new play about a Cambodian American family in Lowell, Mass., which happened last night (on Nov. 12), with direction by Pirronne Yousefzadeh. But a recording is available to view for free Fri., Nov. 13-Sun., Nov. 15.
San Francisco Playhouse will stream a fully staged production of Art by Yasmina Reza, 1998’s Best Play Tony winner, directed by Bill English. The comedy, filmed onstage during the pandemic with an innovative three-camera setup, is a timely exploration of the complex layers of friendship uncovered when one friend purchases a $200,000 white painting. The play is available on demand now through Sat., Nov. 21 at midnight. Tickets range from $15 to $100.
Russian Troll Farm isn’t the only online play whose popularity got it extended or reprised (performances continue through this Sun., Nov. 15). Nataki Garrett and Andrea LeBlanc’s intriguing The Carolyn Bryant Project, an excavation of the racist murder of Emmett Till, had such success in its recent airing via the CalArts Center for New Performance that it has returned; an archived video of the 2018 production can be streamed for free now through Sun., Nov. 22.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Makers Lab in Washington, D.C., will reunite for The JookJOYnt, a five-part video experience exploring themes of vulnerability, intimacy, and connection. Part of “Woolly on Demand,” a digital season complementing Woolly’s in-person offerings, the themes explored in The JookJOYnt are inspired by, and in conversation with, the upcoming productions of Black is Beautiful But It Ain’t Always Pretty and Hi, Are You Single? The full episode will be available for streaming on Woolly Mammoth’s website Tues., Nov. 17-Sun., Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. ET. Tickets are free.
Actor’s Express in Atlanta will present Charlayne Woodard’s Neat, a solo play about her cherished Aunt Neat, a woman whose simplicity, love, energy and tenderness made a profound impact, starring Charity Purvis Jordan . Performances are streaming live at various showtimes now through Sun., Nov. 22. Tickets start at $15.
Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company will present Fine Wine, a digital series of classic monologues written for ingenue actresses but instead performed by actresses in their late 40s and older, to give them a fresh spin. Curated by Leighza F. Walker, the series will include performances by Jennifer Decker, Sally Burtenshaw, Tek Wilson, Karina Pal-Montano, Tonnie Walker, Tamara Siler, Lubaina Latif, Daria Allen, Rachel Brownhill, Renee Van NIfertik, Amy Warren, Karen Schlag, Pam Pankratz, Anjana Menon, Elizabeth Seabolt-Esparza, and Leighza F. Walker. DIrection by Patricia Duran, Ron Jones, Jennifer Decker, Leighza F. Walker, Ryan Kelly, and Jonathan Gonzalez. Fine Wine will be available for viewing Nov. 15-25. Tickets are free and donations are suggested.
Boston-based Acronym TV presents the world premiere of Manifest Destiny’s Child, described as a “provocative, intelligent, and humorous meditation on how America lost its way and woke up in Trumplandia.” Written and performed by Dennis Trainor Jr. and directed by Jeff Wise, Manifest Destiny’s Child is available to stream on demand now through Mon., Nov. 30th. Tickets are $10 or pay what you will and can be found here.
All Arts, in partnership with eight regional theatres across the country, including New York City’s Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, are presenting the world TV and streaming premiere of Until the Flood, writer-performer Dael Orlandersmith’s one-woman show about Ferguson following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown. Based on extensive interviews, this theatrical event gives voice to a community grappling with injustice and yearning for change. The play will begin streaming Sun., Nov. 15 for free on allarts.org and the ALL ARTS app.
National theatre podcast and public radio show Playing on Air presents Scraps and Things, a short audio play in which the legendary Carol Kane plays a chatty seamstress at a laundromat in Istanbul. The show will be available for free beginning Sun., Nov. 15, and can be heard on the Playing on Air website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
Among its other virtual programming, Dallas Children’s Theater is offering Andi Boi, a play about a transgender teen’s first day of school, written and directed by Bruce R. Coleman and coproduced with Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, in partnership with the First Unitarian Church of Dallas. Recommended for kids aged 13 and up, it’s a virtual recording available now through July 29, 2021 for $20 per rental.
L.A.’s Antaeus Theatre Company wants listeners to get to know their city better, so they commissiond The Zip Code Plays: Los Angeles, a series of six original audio plays, each set in a different L.A. zip code. Hosted by two-time Audiofile Award-winner Ramón de Ocampo and featuring original music by Ellen Mandel, the series is now available to podcast listeners here or wherever you get your podcasts. In Khari Wyatt’s Speakeasy (zip code 90011), an author returns home to 1950s-era South Central L.A. In Angela J. Davis’s Clara and Serra and The Talking Bear (90012), a magical encounter with a celestial comet awakens a pair of downtown statues and a neighboring denizen of the La Brea Tar Pits. Deb Hiett’s All Information (90024) follows an unlikely octogenarian protestor in Westwood. The ruins of an abandoned WWII Nazi compound in Pacific Palisades (90272), known today as the “Murphy Ranch,” are the inspiration for Alex Goldberg’s Annexing the Palisades. In Nayna Agrawal’s Plucker (90403), a dispute over fruit trees in Santa Monica becomes a satirical look at inequality. And in Steve Serpas’s Salvage (91352), a Sun Valley junkyard becomes the site of bonding between a music teacher and a volunteer.
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