Online theater options to enjoy from the NYPL, theater orgs

Linda Armstrong | 4/2/2020, midnight
When it comes to experiencing the arts, some of the best resources we currently have are online with the libraries ...

When it comes to experiencing the arts, some of the best resources we currently have are online with the libraries and theater companies who are offering families some prime entertainment and relaxation, and a chance to escape reality and experience something different. Doug Reside, curator at the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center, recently shared some of the resources available to families. “The Theatre Division staff have been working over the past week to gather a list of theater resources (including streaming video and plays to read) while the library buildings are closed. The evolving list is available at https://libguides.nypl.org/c.php?g=1015243. There are quite a few plays available through our eBook collection at https://nypl.overdrive.com. We are adding to our online databases all the time, and a growing number of theater companies are streaming archival recordings including the U.K.’s National Theatre [which will start streaming April 2 at www.youtube.com/user/ntdiscovertheatre] and concerts from 54 Below (www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ-g1TtgtbSqFLWkpuDtrKg). PBS members have access to an impressive selection of filmed theatre including last summer's production of “Much Ado About Nothing” at Shakespeare in the Park (www.pbs.org/video/much-ado-about-nothing-rahlxp/). Broadway HD is offering a free week to new subscribers which includes access to Lincoln Center Theater’s 2018 production of Pipeline and the London production of “Kinky Boots” (among many other recent Broadway and West End shows).

“One of my colleagues at the Schomburg Center, A.J. Muhammad, has also put together a similar list specifically about African American theater at https://libguides.nypl.org/africanamericantheater,” Reside said. When I visited this site, I can tell you it is a Black theater lover’s dream! It is also a place where you can introduce your children to Black theater. There are different categories that you can click on to hear scenes from original productions by the Negro Ensemble Company. You can go watch tapings of the Theater Talks series that the Schomburg has been holding since 2016, including the program on the play “The Royale” for which the Theater Talk was held Jan. 27, 2016; or the Theater Talk on “Sweat” by Lynn Nottage that occurred on May 1, 2017; and so many more. These Theater Talks are amazing events, with a moderator who interviews the playwrights, directors, and actors from various productions, and the audience gets to hear how these stories came about and what messages are that the productions carry for the audience. I have had the pleasure of attending some of the Theater Talks at the Schomburg and I can truly vouch for the fact that they are vital, inspiring events. When you visit the website, you’ll find so many categories to choose from, including moving images, manuscripts, archives and rare books, photograph & print, recorded sound division, art & artifacts, African Diasporan Theater and American Negro Theater. I hope you visit the site, share it with your families, and enjoy!

In addition to the libraries, take some time to check out what theater organizations and artists are offering for free. The 92nd Street Y is offering live-stream performances and talks, and you can also view previously recorded events in its archives.  Find it all at 92Y.org.

The Actors Fund is launching the daily performance/talk show “Stars in the House,” hosted by SiriusXM Broadway host Seth Rudetsky and his husband/producer James Wesley. Broadway luminaries will sing and chat from their homes, and new episodes will be live-streamed daily at 2 and 8 p.m. on The Actors Fund YouTube channel for free (www.youtube.com/user/actorsfundorg).The series kicked off on Monday, March 16. Broadway World is hosting daily Living Room Concerts, a series of one-song performances recorded by Broadway stars in their respective homes. Watch for free anytime at broadwayworld.com/topic/LIVING-ROOM-CONCERTS.

La MaMa plans to start live-streaming performances soon. Visit lamama.org/livestreams for info and updates. The Metropolitan Opera is streaming previously recorded presentations from its Live in HD series every night until the venue reopens. Each opera starts at 7:30 p.m. and stays up for 20 hours; watch for free at metopera.org. The Tank has launched CyberTank, a weekly, virtual, publicly shared multidisciplinary arts gathering. Live-streams are done on Twitch and you can find more info on The Tank's website (thetanknyc.org).

Dave Malloy, the Tony-nominated creator of “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” just posted a full-length recording of the 2015 mounting of his musical Ghost Quartet online. Watch it for free on his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJSaEJm8pCE.