Yesterday the Buzz covered several kinds of virtual events from local organizations. Today we add theater to the mix.
In this summer of pandemic and protest, it’s easy to feel like the world outside is swirling out of control. Summer stock won’t be happening this year, but trust theater-makers to respond. All over the U.S., they’ve developed or brought back pieces that attempt to both take up the mantle of change and provide context — plus of course entertain. From solo performances to large-scale benefits, Shakespeare to original 2020 works, here’s a lineup to keep you thinking and breathing.
#WhileWeBreathe: A Night of Creative Protest
Brian Moreland and Arvind Ethan David have created #WhileWeBreathe: A Night of Creative Protest, an online event to benefit organizations committed to social justice. The live show will premiere short works written and directed by people of color and will feature performances from Lynn Whitfield, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Bryan Terrell Clark , and Ty Jones.
The show premieres Wed., July 29, at 6 p.m. on WhileWeBreathe.com and YouTube Live. Donations can be made here.
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
(through Wed., July 29th only) Out of the Box Theatrics in New York produces classic works in site-specific locations—in this case, a playground. No protests here, just the Peanuts gang in a family-friendly musical. Tickets are available here.
Casa Coco: Coco Peru Live
If you’ve never seen Coco Peru, now’s your chance to catch this bitingly hysterical drag queen at home with two of her favorite Coco Puffs, Sean Hayes, and RuPaul’s Drag Race star Bob The Drag Queen. She’ll share some stories, chat with Sean and Bob, answer questions, and maybe sing a song or two. (Check out her lip synch of Barbra Streisand’s biting “How Lucky Can You Get?” from Funny Lady here, starting around 5:40.) On Wed., July 29th at 5:00 pm, with encore streams later that night and the next day. Free tickets are available here.
Pride & Prejudice: The Musical
Now in its 5th year, the SheNYC Summer Theater Festival showcases the work of up-and-coming women-identifying writers and composers. On July 31st at 5:00 pm: Pride & Prejudice, a new musical by Sam Caps & Annie Dillon, a contemporary and irreverent reimagining of a classic.
Then on August 1st at 5:00 pm, Roll with It by Charlotte Ahlin, written specifically for the festival by a returning playwright.
Tickets are $5 and can be purchased here. As a writer I love SheNYC’s “Tip the writer!” option for ticket-buying.
I Am My Own Wife
Produced by the Water Tower Theatre in Addison, TX, this breathtaking one-man show is based on a true story, and inspired by interviews conducted by the playwright, Doug Wright, over several years, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (played by Bob Hess) is an elegant and eccentric 65-year old German transgender woman who, against all odds, managed to survive both the Nazi onslaught and the repressive East German Communist regime. Using more than 30 characters, Wright pieces together Charlotte’s captivating and controversial life. Winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play, I Am My Own Wife is a profound story of survival.
Tickets are available through Sunday, August 2nd for $41 and can be purchased here. The show’s program is available here.
On Borrowed Time
On Wed., August 5, and Thursday, August 6 at 4:00 pm, Joel Grey directs an online reading of Paul Osborn’s On Borrowed Time. This Actors Fund benefit features Blair Brown, Michael Cumpsty, Bill Irwin, Bebe Neuwirth, Phillipa Soo and Sam Waterston. Oakes Fegley will reprise his Two River debut as Pud, the role which launched Joel Grey’s theatrical career at the Cleveland Playhouse as a nine-year-old boy.
On Borrowed Time.is a fantasy about the love between a little boy and his grandfather. When Death pays them a visit in the form of a man, Gramps outwits him – trapping him in a tree and refusing to let him down.
Online benefit event tickets are $25 per reading or $85 for a series of four (see the lineup here) and include access to live post-reading Q&As with the artists involved, hosted on Zoom. The series is presented by Two River Theater of Red Bank, NJ.
Out of the Blue: Stories of Surprise
Moth storytellers spin tales of the wild and unforeseen (like holding Moth events on Zoom). Expect nagging truths, startling discoveries and hard-fought wisdom, sudden turns in the road and the thunderbolts that light new landscapes.
The live event is Thursday, August 6th at 6:45 pm. Tickets are $15 and available here; sales close at 4:00 pm
Book Club: Plays with Purpose
Boston Court Pasadena launches a book club on Zoom featuring plays that are relevant to something happening in the world today. Book number 1 is Bars and Measures by Idris Goodwin. The play is about two brothers, classical pianist Eric, a Christian, and jazz bassist Bilal, a Muslim. Separated by prison bars and religious convictions, the brothers connect through their shared language of music.
The conversation will take place on Sunday, August 16th at 4:00 pm. Tickets are $9 and include a PDF copy of the script to each participant.
Groundlings Happy Hour Salon
On Thursday, August 20 from 5:00-7:00 pm, Ron Perlman will join Groundling Allison Dunbar in a “Happy Hour Salon” on Zoom. Perlman will share how he got his start in sketch comedy over four decades ago, discuss his films, preparation process, auditions, jobs, what keeps him inspired in times of struggle, and will also answer questions from virtual attendees.
Tickets are $25 and available here.
The Under Presents: Tempest
Actor Deirdre V. Lyons plays Prospero in the live, immersive theatrical production of The Under Presents: Tempest. You can view a promo here, but viewing/participating in the show is possible only with an Oculus virtual reality headset on Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift, performed through Sept. 30. Tickets are purchased through the app .
The Under Presents: Tempest, created by art and games studio Tender Claws, is a cross between an immersive theatrical experience led by live professional actors and VR gaming. Audiences perform magic with Prospero, and together they create a timeless tale of love and revenge. An interactive re-imagining loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the experience lasts approximately 40 minutes.
The New York Times described the piece as “a technological first: a live, scripted, participatory play that you attend, from home, using a virtual reality headset… live actors and live audience members meeting in a shared space at precisely timed intervals… A live actor leads you and six or seven other audience members to a firepit in the Hollywood Hills, then to Prospero’s island, then back to the firepit for marshmallows and a dance party.”
West Coast Jewish Theatre has put its 2017 world premiere production of Fugu on YouTube. The show, inspired by true events, takes place prior to the United States’ entry into World War II and tells the story of 6,000 Lithuanian Jews rescued from the Nazis and relocated to Kobe, Japan.
The show is free but donations to West Coast Jewish Theatre are welcomed. in support of its ongoing creative endeavors.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
L.A. Theatre Works has released the audio recording of a new stage adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein starring Stacy Keach as “the creature,” with Adhir Kalyan as Dr. Victor Frankenstein.
The recording was made in February over the course of four performances, in front of a live audience, at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater. It features original music by John Biddle, and a post-performance discussion moderated by Leslie S. Klinger, author of The New Annotated Frankenstein” and one of the world’s foremost authorities on “Frankenstein” as well as “Sherlock Holmes,” “Dracula” and H. P. Lovecraft, is included.
You can download Frankenstein as an mp3 digital file for $4.99 here.
Stars (Still) in the House
And another plug for Stars in the House, which launched in the early days of the original lockdown and continues to build its archive of amazing insights from theater makers. SiriusXM hosts Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley lead lively conversations from their home with participants ranging from Annette Bening to Kerry Washington, with Norman Lear, Sarah Silverman, Randy Rainbow, Tony Goldwin and dozens of others thrown in—and that’s just this week. It’s all free on YouTube (livestreamed daily at 5pm weekdays, 11:00 am weekends or archived) but since it’s a fundraiser for the Actors Fund, do kick in a few dollars here.