What We’re Watching This Week

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What We’re Watching This Week

For theater-lovers, one of the few silver linings of our current situation is the ability to watch theater from all over the world. It may not provide the same magic as experiencing a live performance, but it helps fill the void. From local venues sharing their current season, to streaming services highlighting Broadway shows from decades past, to small experimental theaters in New York and large national theaters in Europe releasing classics from their archives—the options are endless! But how do you choose? 

To help you out, Cal Shakes is going to keep a running list of resources, shows, streaming services, and other theatrical offerings from around the globe. Each week we’ll highlight five pieces that we think look cool. Check back here for more content and feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions.

Five Shows We’re Streaming This Week:

 

Lungs

by Duncan MacMillan, Old Vic Theatre, London, UK
 

Matthew Warchus directs Claire Foy and Matt Smith (the original Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in The Crown)  perform a socially distanced version of a production they first performed at the Old Vic in 2019 and were meant to take to New York in April. One of the first theaters to try socially distance performance, the actors are in the empty 1000 person venue while the audience is on Zoom. Named a New York Times Critics Pick, Lungs is a comedy about the climate crisis. Performances run through July 4. Tickets range from $25-$85 and are selling out  fast.  Due the time difference, book an evening performance and watch it on your lunch break.; it’s only 90-minutes.

Lazarus

by Rennie Harris, Alvin Alley American Dance Theater, New York, NY
 

A two-act hip hop piece, originally performed in 2018, looks at the racial inequities Alvin Alley faced when he started the dance company in 1958. Free; available through July 9. 

Les Blancs

By Lorraine Hansberry, The National Theatre of London, London, UK 
 

And So We Come Forth

Written and directed by Richard Nelson
 

The second installment of The Apple Family: A Dinner on Zoom—this play, like the first which premiered in April, was written in our current world for Zoom. The Apple Family (who have 4 normal plays about them written over 10 years) meet over Zoom in July 2020 to discuss the ongoing pandemic and the massive unrest over racism in the US. Free but a benefit for The Actors Fund; available for eight weeks. 

Hamilton

by Lin-Manuel Miranda, original Broadway production 
 

Does it need an introduction?  A filmed version of the original Broadway cast performing on stage in 2016, the reviews from theater and film critics alike call this version a hit perfect for our time.  Streaming of the hit musical begins July 3 on Disney Plus. Subscriptions begin at $6.99.

 

Other Resources (working list) 

 

List of all things streaming developed by theater-lovers near and far:

Theater companies streaming multiple productions:

  • Belarus Free Theatre – Even in normal times, this theater is forced to operate underground due to political circumstances in their own country. Currently operating out of the UK, the company is streaming 24 pieces through June.
  • Berliner Ensemble, Berlin, Germany – streaming  a new classic every Friday at 9 am PST including a production of Mother Courage from 1957.
  • The Flea Theater, New York – Offering an online version of their late night episode Serials. 
  • La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, CA – A newly launched digital platform called WOW (Without Walls) that offers newly commissioned video installations and 1×1 performances.
  • La MaMa, New York – Offering a weekly online live performance series called Downtown Variety.
  • National Theatre, London, United Kingdom – Offering a new play from their archives every week through May 15.
  • The Public Theater, New York – Offering live streaming work sessions of Suzan-Lori Parks in collaboration with Howlround and archived performances from Joe’s Pub.
  • Sadler’s Well, London, United Kingdom – One of the world’s leading dance companies offering free performances and workshops while the theater is dark.
  • The Schaubühne,  Berlin, Germany – Described by Time Out as “ the coolest theatre in the world since before most us were born,” the Schaubühne is showing a different production each night at 6:30 pm German time (9:30 AM PST) but it’s only available until midnight (3 pm PST).
  • Shakespeare’s Globe, London, United Kingdom – Offering a different production every two weeks and access to all of their Globe to Globe Festival which brings Shakespearean productions from around the world to the Globe (including a Comedy of Errors set in modern day Afghanistan). 
  • Stratford Festival, Stratford, Canada – Offering three of their Stratford Festival on Film every two weeks through May. 
  • The Tank, New York – Offering a variety show on Tuesdays for emerging artists.

Streaming services you may not have heard of:

  • All Arts – Arts and Culture Hub created by WNET (parent company of New York’s PBS stations) including full-length productions like James Earl Jones in King Lear.
  • Audible Theatre – Audio plays from audiobook giant Audible. Includes newly commissioned pieces and audio versions of Broadway and Off-Broadway plays; offering a selection of free pieces. 
  • BritBox – The biggest streaming collection of British TV, including a smattering of RSC productions- including Matt Lucas as Bottom in A Midsummers Night’s Dream and John Cleese in The Taming of the Shrew, as well as shows Shakespeare lovers will enjoy, like Upstart Crow. 7-day FREE trial, then just $6.99/month
  • BroadwayHD – Offering Broadway productions and pieces from regional theaters and companies from all over the world; the first week is free. 
  • Digital Theatre – Offering productions from the UK including Royal Shakespeare Company, the Lyric Hammersmith, the Old Vic and more; subscription and rental plans available.
  • Great Performances –  PBS show that presents Broadway and other major New York performances; normally requires a subscription but they are offering a selection through May 27 including The Public’s recent Much Ado About Nothing
  • JS-Encore – A bi-weekly series of traditional and contemporary Japanese performance.
  • Madelen – A collection for French theater, opera, dance.
  • Marquee TV – Includes David Tennant in Richard II and tons of plays from Royal Shakespeare Company, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House and more; the first month free.
  • MIT Global Shakespeares – Shakespearean productions from all over the world.
  • OnTheBoard.tv – Rent or subscribe to contemporary theater, dance, and performance art.  
  • The Show Must Go On – New Youtube channel from Andrew Lloyd Webber. Every Friday at 2 pm EST, Webber will share one of his musicals for free for 48 hours. Starts 4/3 with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dream Coat.
  • LIVR – First streaming service for virtual reality theater (regular productions that have been then filmed for VR). 
  • Kanopy – A free service (with a library card or university ID) offering “thoughtful entertainment” including the Wooster Group’s Hamlet and Macbeth starring Sir Patrick Stewart, though it mostly offers films and documentaries there is an entire performing arts section with recordings of plays, behind-the-scenes videos, and more. 
  • Stage – a streaming services for those looking for more documentaries and behind-the-scene looks into theater, opera, and music. They do have a few full productions and film adaptations of plays but it’s not their focus; $4.99 a month; first week free. 

Amazon, Netflix, and Youtube are also great resources for full-length productions. 

Specific productions:

  • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, adapted and directed by Robert Falls & Seth Bockley – 2020 production at Goodman Theater, Chicago, IL 
  • Antigone at Ferguson by Sophocles; translated and directed by Bryan Doerries – Theater of War Productions
  • The Bacche by Euripides, adapted by Bryan Doerries and directed by Carl Cofield – The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Harlem, NY, through June 26, $10
  • Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass and directed by Robert Wilson, Théâtre du Châlet, Paris, France
  • First Encounter: King Lear – Royal Shakespeare Company/Park Armory; an edited version geared towards students
  • Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirita VR production from the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. Boston, MA
  • Henry IV Part 1 and 2 William Shakespeare – American Shakespeare Center, Staunon, VA $10
  • Lear by Young Jean Lee –  Soho Rep, New York (many of Lee’s other plays also available for free)
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare -Deafinitely Theatre, London, UK (in British Sign Language)
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare – Folger Theatre, Washington, DC; available through July 1
  • Method Gun by Rude Mechs, Austin, TX
  • Playboy of the Western World  by John Synge – Druid Theater Company, Galway, Ireland
  • Slava’s Snow Show by Slava Poulin, Moscow, Russia

New performance developed in isolation:

  • Broadway’s Best Shows – Newly released series of one night only livestream readings of Broadway’s best plays to benefit the Actor’s Fund.
  • Bubble – A play from Theatre Uncut that takes place entirely on Facebook. The theater invites you to watch and then download the script and perform with a group of friends or strangers.
  • Homebound Project – A new initiative that partners playwrights and actors to create new work and raise money for kids no longer receiving school lunches. New program offered each week; $10
  • Play At Home – Newly commissioned short plays to be shared with family and roommates in insolation; part of a partnership between many regional theaters including The Public Theater, Long Wharf Theatre, Berkeley Rep and others.
  • Play-PerViewFeaturing Tony Award winners and a constellation of stars from the worlds of Broadway, Off-Broadway, film, and television, Play-PerView, a new live-streaming theater initiative co-founded by producer Jeremy Wein (NYC PodFest, Kevin McDonald: Alive) and actor and producer Mirirai Sithole (“Black Mirror: Smithereens;” School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play; If Pretty Hurts…), will deliver unique, one-time-only, live-streamed theatrical events and original series into the homes of theater fans around the globe.”
  • The Show Must Go Online – Live readings of Shakespeare’s work from actors all around the world in the order they are believed to be written; every Wednesday at 11 am PST
  • Social Distancing FestivalA site for artists and companies from all over the world to share new content or pieces they couldn’t share live. 
  • Stars in the House – A twice-daily series run by The Actors Fund bringing together Broadway starts 
  • Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – Headliner for last summer’s Echoes concert, Thao Nguyen and her band released their new music video “Phenom” in isolation via Zoom. 
  • Theatre Without Theatre – New Instagram account for theater artists to share while we’re in isolation.
  • Theatre Nerd Shakespeare Pandemic Watch Party – “A group of theatre nerds who watch Shakespeare films during the Pandemic and comment about them on the Face Book.”
  • Viral Monologues by 24 Hour Plays – New monologues (3 to 10 minutes long) written, rehearsed, and performed in 24 hours. Over 60 have been released so far by actors filming themselves at home including performers Daveed Diggs, Michael Shannon, Denis O’Hare, Hugh Dancy, and Sienna Miller to name a few. 

Other fun theater things:

  • Theater Gone Wrong – Broadway actors talking about performance mishaps. 
  • Min Kahng talking about how to write during quarantine. 
  • Free Playwriting Classes from Lauren Gunderson.
  • Free Playwriting Class from Young Jean Lee.
  • Musicals That Never Made ItNew musical spoof podcast hosted by Broadway actor and comedian Gabe Gibbs. He and his writing partner Josh Coyler recruit Broadway stars to sing songs from their “cringe-worthy musicals-– all in the attempt to take their failed musicals to Broadway and earn the attention and respect of Lin-Manuel Miranda!
  • Playscripts Free Reads – Publisher Playscripts is offering twenty of their top plays to read for free including works by Lauren Gunderson, Jen Silverman, Naomi Iizuka. 
  • Playing On Air – a podcast and radio program dedicated to sharing short plays by top playwrights and featuring amazing actors and award-winning directors. 
  • BBC Radio Plays – an free archive of radio plays from BBC
  • Such Stuff – the podcast from Shakespeare’s Globe. Conversation between Michelle Terry and Peter Brooks about the Globe’s new project, Love in Isolation, which will see an extraordinary array of artists share some of Shakespeare’s greatest words from their place of sanctuary.
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