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:

 

The Night Watcher

Adapted and performed by Charlayne Woodard, Primary Stages, New York, NY 
 

Originally performed as part of Primary Stages’ 2019/2020 season at 59E59 Theaters, Charlayne Woodward’s critically-acclaimed one-woman show returns. “Simultaneously a best friend, advisor, confidant, and sage to the many young people who call her ‘Auntie,’ Charlayne Woodard is childless only by biological standards. Told with penetrating grace and candor, Woodard beautifully weaves together stories of the ordinary and extraordinary ways she has mentored the children in her life.” Running through November 22, performances are only available live at either 11 AM or 5 PM PST. Tickets are $36.

The Who & The What

By Ayad Akhtar, TheaterWorks Hartford, Hartford, CT
 

Aneesha Kudtarkar directs this follow-up to Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced about the challenges Muslim women face in the US. The Who & The What was directed with the intention to be shared digitally so this is not an old recording of the original production. Streaming through November 28, you’ll have 24-hour access to the recording after you purchase it. Tickets are $25.

He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box

by Adrienne Kennedy, Roundhouse Theatre, Bethesda, MD
 

Opening a month-long festival of Adrienne Kennedy’s work, Roundhouse begins with Kennedy’s newest play written in 2018 about an interracial couple in the 1940s. Nicole A. Watson directs a story of “dread, romance and a tragic surrealism all at once.”  The play will be available to stream through Febuary 2021. Tickets can be purchased individually for $17.50 or a festival (four productions) pass is available for $60.

On Beckett/In Screen

An exploration of the works of Samuel Beckett, conceived & performed by Bill Irwin, Irish Repertory Theatre, New York, NY
 

Bill Irwin returns with his critically-acclaimed solo shows adapted for virtual performance with the help of director M. Florian Staab. It is not simply the same production adapted for film, but a new version exploring Irwin’s relationship to Beckett in the time of Covid. The production runs through November 22 with live performances only. Free.  

Final Boarding Call

By Stephani Kuo, WP Theater in partnership with Ma-Yi Theater Company, New York, NY
 

Mei Ann Teo directs this play about the current Hong Kong protests and seven interconnected characters who present a range of perspectives—”a protesting brother and flight attendant sister struggling to keep her job; a Mainland Chinese mother and her estranged Hong Kong daughter; a non-Cantonese speaking reporter and her Indian partner; and an American expat CEO and Hong Kong lover living in the shadows.”  The reading will stream live on November 20 at 4 PM PST and be available to watch through November 24. Free.

Death of England: Delroy

By Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, National Theatre, London, UK
 

Clint Dyer directs Michel Balogun in this solo show that was the first live, in-person production at the National Theatre since March before the theater was forced to shutdown again. The production tells the story of Delroy, “a Black working class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain.” The play premieres November 27 at 11 am PST through Saturday November 28 at 11 AM. Free.

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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