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:

 

12 Angry Men…And Women: The Weight of the Wait

Arranged by Arthur Yorinks, Billie Holiday Theatre, Brooklyn, NY
 

The first approved live theatrical production in NYC was performed socially distanced with a quartet of New York Philharmonic and award-winning actors such as Wendell Pierce. “A documentary collage of monologues about harassment, intimidation and violence by police against Black people who are simply going about their business.”  A  New York Times Critics Pick,  Indira Etwaroo directs the production designed both for Youtube and a live audience. Free through November 3. 

Belfast Blues

By Geraldine Hughes, Irish Repertory Theatre, New York, NY
 

Geraldine Hughes wrote and performs this one-woman show about growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the 1980s in the height of the “Troubles.” The play initially premiered in 2003 in Los Angeles to great acclaim and has been performed all over the world. This particular production was directed by Carol Cane and filmed at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast in 2019. Running through September 27 with performances at 5 pm PST on Friday and Saturday nights and 12 pm on Saturday and Sunday afternoons; tickets are free but reservations are required.

Insulted. Belarus(sia)

By Andrei Kureichik,  Wilma Theater, Philadelphia, PA
 

“Insulted. Belarus(sia) tells the story of the first month of the ongoing Belarusian revolution, where the people are protesting after President Alexander Lukashenko – known as Europe’s last dictator – claimed victory in a contested election. Polls showed Lukashenko badly trailing his opponent. The unprecedented national protests have continued despite mass arrests, police brutality, and the torture of protestors. Insulted. Belarus(sia) features characters inspired by the real life political leaders and protestors, with some dialogue taken verbatim from the public record” Directed by Yury Urnov, the production is one of many to support the theater community of Belarus. September 26 at 5 PM EST; Free but all donations support victims of repression in  Belarus.

Table Top Shakespeare

Forced Entertainment, Sheffield, United Kingdom
 

“Originally conceived in 2015, in Complete Works six performers create condensed versions of all of the Shakespeare plays, comically and intimately retelling them, using a collection of everyday objects as stand-ins for the characters on the one-meter stage of a tabletop.”  During the pandemic, Forced Entertainment is performing all of Shakespeare’s canon on kitchen tables. Check out Titus Andronicus on Sept 26, Much Ado About Nothing on Sept 27, and Hamlet on Oct 1, to name a few. Free.

The Humans

By Stephen Karam, Olney Theatre Center, Olney, MD
 

Aaron Posner (Cal Shakes 2014 production of Comedy of Errors) directs this “hilarious and haunting”  family drama that was set to open in  the DC area when COVID hit. The company pivoted to bring this Pulitzer Prize nominated play online. Running through October 4; $35 per household.

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:

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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