BWW Blog: Staying Immersed in Theatre While Broadway is Closed
Like nearly every theatre fan, I have been in mourning since mid-March. When it was announced that Broadway performances would be suspended beginning March 13, I, like many other fans around the world, realized how real this pandemic was. And the idea of our beloved Broadway being closed indefinitely was heartbreaking. It seemed for many to be the moment the world truly stopped.
For me, summer has been when I frequent Broadway shows the most. My hometown is closer to New York City than my university, and I have more free time to put aside to go see shows. With that in mind, I didn't think that when I saw Come From Away in January during my winter break that it would be the last show I would see for a long time. This is probably the longest I have gone since my preteen years without seeing a live show. During a pandemic, where live theatre is all but nonexistent, what is an avid fan to do?
Luckily, with today's technology, there are plenty of ways to feel close to theatre from home. For starters, in the midst of the pandemic, many production companies made professionally-filmed footage of past productions available online for free. For example, Dave Malloy posted Ghost Quartet performed at the Mckittrick Hotel on YouTube. The National Theatre in London posted a different play on YouTube temporarily, taking each show down after a week and uploading a new one. Some of the ones I viewed included One Man Two Guvnors, Treasure Island, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. These were especially helpful for school, since several of my theatre classes required students to view a filmed production and do a write-up in lieu of the live productions we would normally see during the semester.
I also invested in acquiring live theatre at home by subscribing to BroadwayHD. I had never subscribed to the website before, mostly because I was seeing live shows semi-frequently. Now, though, I watch something on it at least once a week. Through BroadwayHD, I have watched Indecent, Kinky Boots, Falsettos, Puffs, and many other plays and musicals.
In addition, I found ways to remain connected to my university's theatre department. As someone who was recently elected to the E-Board of the UAlbany Theatre Council, I have been meeting with my peers via Zoom to plan campaigns and events. We hosted a virtual movie night of Kinky Boots for the department, performed play read-throughs, and engaged with our theatre department peers through the Theatre Council's social media pages. That way, I have still felt involved in the theatre department despite being away from campus.
In a lot of ways, being without live theatre has also prompted me to become more actively engaged with original work. I have taken to reading more plays. Plenty of bound scripts sat on my bookshelf, untouched. Since March, that has changed. I have read Angels in America, The Bridges of Madison County, Slave Play, Burn This, and A View From the Bridge. This is the most I have read plays outside of an academic setting. Having the ability to see plays and musicals made reading them a lesser priority. I had always vowed to make myself more engaged with written works, and to expose myself to the contemporary theatre canon on my own time. While I never imagined doing that under these circumstances, I am so glad I finally fulfilled that promise to myself.
Being without Broadway is difficult. But that doesn't mean we have to be without theatre in our lives. It can be found everywhere, all we have to do is look a bit harder.