Below is a lightly edited transcript of Playtime’s Chicago Theater Report for September 6, 2020:
You can hear this episode on:
Facebook (Theater report starts at about 1:03:55)
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Commentary: Theater Industry Changes
There’s no question that the theater industry has been profoundly affected by the pandemic and many companies have scrambled to adapt their operations to outdoor venues or online streaming. This has led to some industry experts questioning whether the opportunity to stream live theater could lead to a decline in in-person attendance even after the pandemic is over and companies can resume normal operations.
A recent survey by Today Tix might shed some light on this issue: It asked those who watched the streaming version of Hamilton whether the experience had impacted their desire to see Hamilton live. 63% of respondents who watched the streamed version of Hamilton had not yet seen the production live. 39% indicated that they are more likely to buy a ticket now and 46.5 % stated that their plans to purchase a ticket to the live production were unchanged. Only 14.9 percent of respondents indicated that seeing the streaming production made them less likely to see Hamilton Live.
In addition, the experience of watching a streamed version of Hamilton actually got viewers excited about seeing other streamed productions: Seventy-eight percent of global TodayTix indicated a desire to see streamed shows and content when theaters reopen.
While this is only one survey for viewers of one show, these results may represent a sea-change that the industry will need to grapple with: Current intellectual property laws that govern theater scripts can make streamed productions a challenge. In addition, actors, directors, and technical crew will likewise have to refine their respective crafts as they adapt to a new medium.
Still, the survey results are encouraging: Just as hearing a new song or viewing a video of a band may spark a desire to see a live gig, the same might be true for theater. As cities reopen and begin to encourage tourism, streaming productions might prove to be an enticement to travelers who want to check out local theaters. I hope that our companies here in Chicago, and around the world, are able to push forward and create adaptable, flexible productions that can be enjoyed both inside and outside theater buildings.
New Artistic Director Donterrio Johnson has made some big changes at Pride Films and Plays: First, he has formally changed the name of the organization to PrideArts, a transition that began in 2019. Secondly, he has announced a series of streamed productions that will run through December. The season begins on September 30th with CLOSET PLAY, poetry by James Baldwin, and Tennessee Williams – with an original jazz score. The show will be streamed live on September 30, 2020, broadcasting from the Pride Arts Center’s Buena Theatre at 7:00 pm on Facebook and YouTube; and available to stream thereafter. Links will be posted on the PrideArts Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pridefilmsandplays) and website (www.pridearts.org). There is no charge to view CLOSET PLAY, but donations will be gladly accepted.
Invictus Theatre Co Debuts ‘Night, Mother
Our friends at Invictus Theatre Company will debut a virtual production of ‘Night, Mother starting on October 22nd running through November 8th. The shows will stream Thursdays-Saturdays at 7pm and Sundays @ 3pm. There will be an understudy performance on Wednesday, November 4 @7pm
Tickets are $20 and available at https://www.invictustheatreco.com/onstage. The show is entirely virtual and ticket holders will receive a link for streaming their show at home.
DB Comedy’s The Electables
Finally, DB Comedy has released the second episode of its new political comedy podcast, The Electables. This episode focuses on John Adams and features original comedy sketches interspersed with commentary by professional historians. The shows can be streamed from most popular podcast platforms, and you can find links on DB Comedy’s Facebook page or website at DBComedy.com.
Wine Recommendation: Villa Graziella Bianco Toscano I.G.T.
This week’s wine recommendation is a departure from my usual ultra-dry, somewhat pricey choices. I found a bottle of Villa Graziella Bianco Toscano IGT at Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen in Lincoln Square. This is an organic, single estate white wine from Italy that is a great option for riesling lovers who are looking to mix things up a bit. The wine is a wee bit sweeter than I normally go for, but it has a lot of fresh and zippy tropical fruit. The price is also right: $10.99 for the bottle. This wine could actually go well with a range of foods, including one of Gene’s delicious fresh salads, though my own inclination would be to pair it with Asian food, particularly Thai. Gene’s is at 4750 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL 60625, www.genessausage.com.
Playtime with Bill Turck and Kerri Kendall can be heard every Sunday from 1-3pm Central time. The show streams live on WCGORadio.com and Facebook. An archive recording is also made available for streaming at any time. In the Chicago area? Tune in to WCGO at 1590 AM throughout the city and suburbs. 95.9 FM on the Northside.