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Regional Spotlight: How New York Theatre Workshop is Working Through the Global Health Crisis

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Regional Spotlight: How New York Theatre Workshop is Working Through the Global Health Crisis

Now more than ever it is important to support theater and do our part to keep the art form that we love so much alive and as thriving as it can be during these unprecedented times. While the global health crisis has temporarily put the theater world on hold, pausing all live performances and large gatherings to help stop the spread of COVID-19, theaters around the country have taken a hit. During this time of adjusting to our temporary new normal, theaters are figuring out how to take care of their team, and discovering the best ways to virtually bring theater to audiences.

Through our regional theater interview series, we are checking in with theaters all around the country, talking to them about how they are handling these difficult circumstances, learning what they are doing to move forward, and discovering the best way for people to help regional theaters during this time.

Today we're checking in with New York Theatre Workshop.


First of all, I want to check in on the health and wellbeing of everyone at NYTW. How is everyone doing during this difficult time?

The staff has risen to the occasion with fortitude and humility to find new ways to keep our organization running remotely alongside a tenacious group of artists who stepped forward to help us create new virtual programming opportunities and sustain our sense of community.

What do the days look like right now for those who work at NYTW?

We're so used to working in very close quarters in our offices on East 4th Street, so we spend a lot of time on Zoom to maintain the connectedness while we're spread across nine time zones!

How much planning is going on both short term and long term for the theater?

Given the uncertainties about how the public health crisis will continue to play out in the coming year, we're planning for all sorts of scenarios. We remain passionately committed to the extraordinary artists whose work we'd been planning and preparing to produce this season and in future seasons. Until it's safe for us to gather in the theatre again, we're also in conversation with artists who are dreaming up ways to create art that celebrates liveness and community but doesn't necessitate being in the same room. We're fortunate that our artistic community has always thought creatively about how to use the tools of theater to respond to the present moment and push the art form into the future, and this moment is no exception.

Do you have plans to bring any previously filmed productions/upcoming events/classes etc. online?

The staff and our artistic community acted very quickly following the shutdown in mid-March. We were able to share our production of Endlings with folks who had tickets to performances that were cancelled. And on April 1st, we launched our virtual programming initiative. We've hosted a series of weekly Mondays @ 3 Master Classes with artists including Rachel Chavkin, Jeremy O. Harris and Lileana Blain-Cruz; a Fireside Chats discussion series with generative artists including the Sanctuary City team, Lisa Peterson, our Tow Playwright-in-Residence Victor I. Cazares and Penny Arcade; and musical offerings from some of our favorite singer/songwriters. In addition, our community events-from Open Mic Nights and Mind the Gap reunions to virtual networking events and a new Emerging Artist Corner series-have all continued online. All of these events and classes have been free and open to the public and many of them are now available in a virtual archive on our website.

What is the best way for people to help NYTW right now?

Be in community with us! We hope you'll join in the conversation that's happening online, whether it's one of the programs that we mentioned above or our Virtually Neighbors program which pairs folks in our community for a weekly check-in. And, of course, your support is critical for the not-for-profit arts institutions to weather this storm! If you're able to make a contribution of any amount, we hope you'll consider doing so today at NYTW.org.


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