Read about NYC's best theatre and dance productions and watch video interviews with innovative artists
A peek at the future of live performance in NYC
Although live in-person theatre has been happening with precautions in other parts of the world—London, Prague, South Korea, the American South—New York CIty hasn't even been able to attempt it due to restrictions on gatherings. But now that NYC is in Phase 2 of reopening, some Off-Off Broadway companies that operate in 99-seat or smaller theatres are prepping to do hybrid performances, which will be presented in front of limited in-person audiences and also streamed online.
Food for Thought Productions, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, is the first company to announce an in-person event: a staged reading of short plays about memory loss starring Tony nominee Bob Dishy and Louise Lasser. Directed by Antony Marsellis, the program features Robert Anderson's I'm Herbert, Arthur Miller's I Can’t Remember Anything and Daniel Rose's Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, and takes place on Monday, July 13 at 1:30 p.m. at The Coffee House Club, 20 West 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Audience members must wear masks and will be seated at least six feet apart from one another. No word on what safety protocols are being instituted for the actors, but we suspect they too will be physically distanced. Tickets to this performance are free and available first come, first served by calling 646-366-9340 or emailing info@foodforthoughtproductions. If you'd rather watch from home, you can request the Zoom link. Food for Thought plans to continue doing monthly staged readings in person so long as small gatherings continue to be allowed.
Meanwhile, Erez Ziv, the managing artistic director of FRIGID New York which runs two East Village venues, has been busy tearing seats out of The Kraine Theater at 85 East 4th Street. His plans include building a plexiglass shield between the stage and the audience, and having a limited number of in-person viewers for live performances that are also streamed. At the moment, all of FRIGID's programming is online, but Ziv expects to be doing hybrid performances by next month.
The innovative approaches to live performance in our new abnormal don't stop there. You can currently see the multimedia installation Under Glass and in Color, featuring designer and performance artist Darrell Thorne sporadically performing in the window of a former bank at 55 Avenue A surrounded by his creations. Presented by Chashama and the National Endowments for the Arts, it runs through Tuesday, July 7. Update: The artist is no longer appearing in the window, but his creations are still on view.
And up in New York's Hudson Valley this week, Tony-nominated director Michael Arden (Once on This Island, Spring Awakening) is developing an immersive, site-specific piece called American Dream Study, a drive-through/walk-through experience staged throughout the towns of Philmont, Claverack and Harlemville. Devised in collaboration with a group of actors, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, stage managers, designers, choreographers and medical professionals, the work features The Book of Mormon Tony winner Nikki M. James, Krysta Rodriguez, Justin Scribner, Andy Mientus, Nick Adams, Claybourne Elder and many others. The bad news: It's an invite-only event, but we hope this tryout will inspire other theatrical experiments—especially outdoor ones.
Top image: Darrell Thorne. Photo by Carla Fosalba.