While the coronavirus has stopped South Florida theatre artists and aficionados from physically convening, it cannot stop us from creating or connecting. As we adapt to our newly distant lives, we are slowly discovering how to bring our beloved craft to the digital realm, with increasingly exciting results. As artists, it is our duty to bring joy even to landscapes of tragedy, to wring order from chaos and conjure hope from despair.
Also, quite frankly, a lot of us just really need money.
Due to COVID-19’s financial impact, both companies and individuals have turned to the digital world as a means of fundraising as well as of art-making. Most of the promising virtual performances and events listed below are accessible on a “free but donations encouraged” basis, so I wholeheartedly encourage patrons to support whichever organizations or individuals you can and wish to if you’re lucky enough to have the means to do so. Note that I’d also like to keep this blog as neutral as possible, so just don’t ask me to take sides!
Therefore, in entirely random order:
Theatre Arts Productions, a fledging Lake Worth theatre company otherwise known as TAP, is presenting the first in a series of film and television success stories at 5 pm today (Wednesday April 15th), this one featuring acclaimed actor Lee Wilkof. You can also catch “Spreading Light Into The World,” a showcase featuring uplifting performances by some of TAP’s talented students, at 7 pm this Saturday the 18th on Zoom/Facebook live.
New City Players is drawing attention to the South Florida Theatre League relief fund in a particularly innovative fashion with their Instagram Live “Late Late Show.” Host Tim Davis goes “live” with a different South Florida theatre artist every night to discuss the state of theatre, or the state of the world, or Taco Bell, or Star Wars, or…whatever else comes up. At the very least, you can expect dependably amusing (and slightly inebriated) conversation, but you should also come prepared for anything from impulsive duets to sock puppets. Check it out at 9 pm nightly @newcityplayers on Instagram!
Fort Lauderdale company Measure for Measure is back in business with a reading of Angels in America featuring a stellar cast of experienced South Florida actors. This 2-part Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tony Kushner focusing on the mid-1980s AIDS crisis happens to be devastatingly timely today. The reading will be divided into six Facebook Live sessions, with Part 1 to be presented on Friday April 17th Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Another virtual reading to be had is a Zoom iteration of playwright Chris Gacinski’s The Mortal Drama, a story of two artists whose devotion to each other and to their craft is only rivaled by their devotion to heroin. Catch it at 8 pm this Thursday (April 16)!
On another note entirely, if you’ve always wanted to try improv but always had excuses not to, you are now officially out of alibis! Every Monday, Anthony Francis of Improv U will be hosting 45 minute improv “log-ins” in place of his in-person “drop-ins” until the latter are once again possible. Both experienced improvisers and novices should feel free to Zoom in for improv games and exercises and an evening of guaranteed fun. Note that while the class is free, you do have to register via Zoom in advance! Interested improv fanatics can also check Francis’s Weekly YesAndU Livestreams.
Other improv offerings include a performance by Understated, a duo team featuring Kathleen Kenny and Jeff Quintana that aims to make “magic from the mundane.” Donations will be split evenly between both artist’s home theatres, Quintana’s Speakeasy Theatre and Kenny’s Actor’s Workshop and Repertory Company. For something a little different, Actor’s Rep is also offering incentive to get moving with a weekly Saturday Morning Stretch class led by Emma Sue Harris and featuring “Yoga, Full body stretch sequence, light core exercises and kinesthetic bliss!”
If you’re too busy to commit to anything at specific time, Dramaworks’ In The Wings Interactive is free to be perused whenever with some cool behind-the-scenes content, including Theatre Talks, stories from top theatre professionals like Gary Cadwallader and Elizabeth Dimon, and even a haiku contest!
There’s also no wrong time to lighten the mood musically with #MNMSings, a Youtube series that features the talented members of MNM Theatre Company performing songs from musical theatre favorites like Grease, Company, and Avenue Q.
Finally, last but obviously not least, Theatre Lab is back in the game with round 2 of its Online Original Monologue Festival, which has now acquired the nickname #OOMF. #OOMF2: Heroes will benefit the behind-the-scenes “heroes” of the theatre world, like stage managers, designers, technicians, administrators, and box office employees.
The event will commence in a similar fashion to its predecessor, with filmed versions of last month’s workshops on Parts of A Story and Elements of A Monologue viewable on Theatre Lab’s Facebook page for those who missed them last month. You can also catch a live review of the Elements of A Monologue workshop today (Wednesday April 15th) at 12:30 on Facebook Live and at 7 pm on Instagram Live. Meanwhile, a brand new workshop called “Scene Writing” rumored to feature some exciting special guest playwrights will take place at 12:30 pm on Instagram Live and 7 pm on Facebook Live.
Scenes, stories, and monologues will be accepted via email until 10 am on Monday the 20th, and the festival itself will take place on via Facebook Live at 7:30 and will be available on Youtube the following day. It will utilize the same virtual telethon format as last month’s, with each performer providing the cash-app information of a behind-the scenes-hero. So be sure to bring your wallets. Um, figuratively. Your virtual wallets?
There may well be who-knows-how many other things going on in the South Florida’s cyber-theatre-sphere that I am not aware of. However, as I have no actual responsibility to anyone or authority over anything, hopefully this round-up is a decent start. Also, it’s almost 5 in the morning….
Meanwhile, I remain alive and well and back in good old Lake Worth, if only now checking in with this blog a good month since I claimed that I’d be trying to update regularly. I do have some non-review theatre-related posts in various stages of completion that I’m planning on finishing eventually, but I’ve gotten sidetracked with a lot of other quick-turnaround short writing projects and playing catch-up with longer ones. Also, I kind of had a world pandemic to process, but enough about that. Happy (virtual) theatre-going, folks!