In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, many people are wondering how they won’t go stir crazy with the 14-day self-quarantine and small gatherings recommendations. As someone who goes to the theater at least twice a week, I know that the absence of that communal experience is going to be tough. In an effort to improve the silences and be a solution, I have compiled a list of ways for you and the family to experience live performance without infecting anyone.
Here you go (click the name of each thing to get to the app/site):
- Great Performances on PBS Have you supported your local public broadcasting station this year? If not, you’re going to owe them a favor for providing thousands of hours of free entertainment all the time. In the Great Performances series, you can see a variety of ballet, opera and theater performances from around the world.
- Met Opera Streams The Metropolitan Opera in New York has announced that they will be offering nightly streaming of opera performances during the Cornavirus pandemic. Hopefully, they’ll continue afterward as well.
- L.A. Theatre Works Audio Plays, powered by NPR We should all leave NPR in our wills for doing the Lord’s work on a daily and they persist with high-quality productions of audio plays. Listen to American classics such as Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms and newer plays such as Natasha Tretheway’s Native Guard for free.
- August Wilson’s complete cycle In 2015, August Wilson’s entire 20th century cycle was recorded with performances by some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Phylicia Rashad, Taraji P. Henson, Russell Hornsby and more. Wilson is arguably the most accomplished playwright in American history– he wrote 10 plays about the African American experience and all of them were produced on Broadway. You’re in for a treat with this one.
- Singalong on Spotify I truly think we’ll start to measure time as life before Spotify and life after. Cast recordings from most Broadway musicals are free to stream on Spotify. Just type “Broadway” in the search bar and go down the rabbit hole. Get out your microphones and have a family singalong.
- Playing On Air If you’re looking for a new podcast to get into, consider Playing On Air. Based in New York, this podcast is dedicated to short plays by great theater artists. Their spring season includes new plays by award-winning playwrights Dominique Morisseau, Rajiv Joseph and Doug Wright.
- Audible Audio Theatre Project Two years ago, Audible started its theater project, which features new plays written by some of the most innovative contemporary playwrights in the country. You have access to these plays with your Audible subscription. For those who do not subscribe to Audible, you can also find a number of audio performances free of charge via your local public library app. Libby and OverDrive are two of the most popular apps.
- American Theatre podcasts Get to know the makers behind the art with 3 on the Aisle and Token Theater Friends, the official podcasts of American Theatre Magazine and Theatre Communications Group. On these podcasts, experts interview today’s hottest actors, directors, and playwrights and talk about sociopolitical issues in the theater.
- BroadwayHD Subscription services are likely to see a swell in activity during this time. On BroadwayHD, you can watch hundreds of Broadway plays and musicals for $8.99/month, plus you can try it out with the 7-day trial. If you have a Netflix account, there are a number of Broadway performances there as well, including American Son starring Kerry Washington and John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons.
- Shakespeare On-Demand The Globe Theatre in London has its own streaming service so you can watch all of the Shakespeare you Cliffs Noted in high school. For about $6 each (4.99 in pounds) you can watch all of the bard’s comedies and tragedies
- *BONUS* NT Live As far as I’m concerned, western theater doesn’t get any better than the National Theatre in London. The quality of the acting is outstanding and you can experience some of their best shows for free at the movie theater. When it’s time to go out of the house again, get it in your life.
Remember, we’re all in this together, so make the most of this time with family and get some culture in your life together. Your living room is a theater. Go ahead and play.