Nine months into the country’s battle against COVID-19, Miami New Drama and its boundlessly imaginative artistic director, Michel Hausmann, have figured out a way to turn vice into virtue, exploring the seven deadly sins in an ambitious return to live theater beginning Nov. 27.
It’s not lost on anyone as these Florida actors sing ardent songs to each other — separated by six feet of stage — that the musical they are filming is titled Closer Than Ever. It’s impossible to ignore that resonance in MNM Theatre Company’s production currently being edited for online streaming release Nov. 27-Dec. 31.
Florida actor Rene Lavan is trying theater of a different sort. He’s starring alongside Tim Creavin in a recorded Zoom reading of Borrowed, the playwriting debut of Broadway producer Jim Kierstead.
Drive-in theater, theater behind storefront glass, podcasts: In spurts over 7 months, South Florida theater artists have been preparing experiments online and live, for free, for pay or donations. As many are coming into view this fall, they are coalescing into a new if temporary paradigm that holds out hope for the survival of the genre.
Six months into the pandemic, theater artists are struggling with a profoundly damaging dimension particular to their purgatory-like limbo: The calling that gives their lives meaning requires interaction with other people in the same room. Late this summer, 33 South Florida storytellers agreed to draw back the curtain on their backstage battles that form the spine of an all too real three-act drama.
As a handful of local venues gingerly tried to reopen in recent weeks and others prepare detailed plans for the future, a regimen of detailed protocols ranging from parking to popcorn to Playbills is emerging in documents that define what performing arts events in South Florida may look like for customers, artists, staff and vendors when theaters can reopen fully.
Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother has arrived for many theater lovers. Surely, snagging a seat for a performance of Hamilton has often seemed impossible. Indeed, ticket prices and sold out performances nationwide have left many craving a ticket. But soon, witnessing the original Broadway cast perform the musical phenomenon will become reality on Friday on Disney Plus.
Jenna and the Whale, which will get a high-profile virtual reading on Broadway On Demand at 5:30 p.m. June 30, is that rare exception: It’s a piece created by a pair of playwrights, Vanessa Garcia and Jake Cline.
Asked to spotlight specific problems and potential solutions, everybody had a story of racism infecting the South Florida theater community. Some cited unintentional micro-aggressions in pressure-laden rehearsals. Others underscored systemic failings whose reform will require leaders, supporters and audiences to revaluate everything from what goes on stage to who decides what goes on stage.
Many people are asking what steps can theaters, funders and patrons take to address these issues. In our interviews and in other articles published across the country, here are action items that have been recommended: