WTF Pivots Mission Online in Response to COVID-19
As theaters sent emails en masse to inform audiences of their plans to postpone planned productions or close runs early, WTF, fortunate to be far from the next scheduled production, believed the best way to serve the community in this moment was to provide an outlet to engage in discussions around great plays. The WTF community helped Executive Artistic Director Johannah Maynard Edwards choose Dance Nation by Clare Barron to read and discuss, and before we knew it, nationally acclaimed artists quickly joined WTF's panel, live-streamed on Twitch Tuesday night.
Thus began WTF's Virtual Plays Club, filling the great need theater artists have to experiment and, more importantly, keep making and sharing art: "The community grew fast and playwrights were eager to not only participate but to really get inventive with us in exploring what might be possible," Johannah recalls. "In some ways, our theatre community was just made really small by forcing us all into our homes, but in other ways, it has expanded exponentially in that, suddenly, geographic proximity is no longer a barrier."
The next live event follows closely on Dance Nation's heels, this time with both a staged reading of a new play and discussion with award-winning playwright Caridad Svich. Albemarle is like no live-stream you've ever experienced. Even the description of the play defies convention:
I lives in Mine's house in a town in the edge-lands. I Misses You, but won't tell anyone. It's Sunday. And last night was a drunken night. This night is going to be the same, but different, on account of a badger and a mysterious opera palace and some other things. How do we come of age when we come of age? How do we live in a movie when we're IRL?
"I have been experimenting with virtual and digital performance for some years," Ms. Svich told us, "often through grass-roots schemes such as this one. I am interested in how we can re-think [the] theatre's liveness in virtual realms, especially as a medium that can be accessible (in all ways) and reach more people, even through humble means."
WTF's commitment to Living Our Mission in 2020 made a promise to our community that we will create, produce, promote extraordinary theatre by women+. virus is a massive blow to the arts community at large. We aim to not just fill some of the void the cancelations have caused but to also create a new space where the arts can grow.
"Even beyond this pandemic, there are tons of reasons why people cannot always attend live events," Mikki Stith, Marketing and Communications for Theatre Raleigh and WTF's Twitch Consultant explains. "Right now, organizers are learning that we shouldn't penalize people for not attending our in-person events; We should accommodate them. Nothing is ever as good as being in 'the room where it happens,' so streaming your event does not cheapen the in-person experience. It is a chance to welcome people who otherwise couldn't participate, and I hope that everyone sees the incredible opportunity that streaming has to offer artists."
For now, join WTF for an exciting reading and discussion on the Twitch channel where it will happen! And stay tuned for yet another phenomenal artist who asked us to produce a reading as part of the #VirtualPlaysWTF !
WTF's Virtual Playreading Book Club Presents:
Albemarle by Caridad Svich
A live-stream virtual "staged" reading of the play
Followed by a discussion with the playwright
4 Actors will read the play LIVE for a virtual audience! Then, Caridad Svich herself will answer your questions about her story.
RSVP for updates: Albemarle: A Virtual Reading & Discussion
Watch it here: https://www.twitch.tv/wtheatrefestivalnc (no Twitch account needed)
Suggested Donation: $5 to paypal.me/wtfestivalnc
*proceeds will pay playwright and performers an honorarium