This Week in Virtual Theater



Still at home and pining to be elsewhere? Think back to your last theater experience, the rustle of programs, the expectant buzz of the crowd, the admonishment to turn off cell phones and open hard candies. Looking to re-create what comes next? Well, first, get yourself a Disney+ subscription, at least for one month (it’s just $6.99), and watch Hamilton. Then cleanse your palate with a great National Geographic piece about secondary characters.

Here are some other ideas for the week. All are free, but if you enjoy them, please consider making a donation to their producing companies.

Yellow Face

Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang, produced by Sierra Madre Playhouse and directed by Drew Barr, will be the subject of a live virtual staged reading on YouTube beginning at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 8th. Viewing time will continue throughout the day until 11:59 p.m. Running time is two hours, including a ten-minute intermission, so you must start viewing by 10:00 p.m. to see the entire reading. This event is FREE, but donations are accepted.

A live post-show talkback with Sierra Madre Playhouse Artistic Director Christian Lebano, Director Drew Barr, and a cast member will be shown on Thursday, July 9 at 6:00 pm PDTThe link to access the talkback will be sent to all registered audience members after the show.

The semi-autobiographical Yellow Face was Hwang’s follow-up to his Tony-winning M. Butterfly. Its subject matter, race-based casting, is even more timely now than when it premiered in 2007.

To register, click here. Under “General Admission,” select a number of people , then select “Checkout” and follow the instructions. Since “will call” windows are a thing of the past, you’ll be sent a link at 11:00 am on Wednesday with which to access the event via YouTube. Reservations ill close at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. If you need assistance, click here.


Les Blancs


Scene from Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs (The Whites)

Les Blancs (The Whites) by Lorraine Hansberry streams online through July 9th. London’s National Theatre presents this 2016 production of Hansberry’s last play, about an African country on the edge of civil war, preparing to drive out its colonial present and claim an independent future. The running time is 2 hours 30 minutes, including a brief intermission.

Like Yellow Face, Les Blancs offers timely subject matter about imperialism, racism and colonialism. The full list of cast and production staff is available here; an educational guide is here.


The Edge of Night



In The Edge of Night, Kirsten Childs reimagines a favorite family story as musical theater. Mrs. Annie Brown is determined not to miss her favorite soap opera but to succeed in her quest, she has to grapple head-on with segregation in the 1950’s South. This audio play is available through Playwrights Horizons in New York and is part of that company’s Soundstage series. Listen here.


Jewish Theater in America



Jewish Women’s Theatre’s Fierce, Funny, and Fabulously Alive: Jewish Theater in America is the latest presentation of the company’s popular Sunday Morning at The Braid on July 12 at 11:00 am. It’s a discussion about what makes a play Jewish, focusing on today’s Jewish playwrights and directors. The Zoom event, featuring Adam Immerwahr, Artistic Director of Theatre J in Washington, D.C., and playwright Alix Sobler, will be moderated by author Lisa Rosenbaum.

For instructions for joining the program, click here.


Neighborhood Newsy Zoom Edition


The Hancock Park neighbors of Neighborhood Newsy Zoom Edition

Neighborhood Newsy Zoom Edition was written by yours truly during the first three months of lockdown and performed live on Zoom by Neo Ensemble Theatre June 6th. It follows a group of avid users of a NextDoor-type community app in Hancock Park who have been invited to meet on Zoom. The app intended to bring together a group of neighbors to support each other, but during the course of five meetings over two months, staying at home starts to take a toll.

Between “days,” the actors had only 60 seconds to change their costumes, hair and makeup and to grab a relevant prop—wine bottle, toilet paper package, cat—before the virtual curtain rose again. The live performance is available on YouTube.

Neo Ensemble Theatre will also transition its long-running monologue festival to Zoom on Friday, July 10th at 7:30 pm. To watch, click here.

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About Laura Foti Cohen

Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Neo Ensemble Theatre in Hollywood.

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