Shows and special programs are announcing streaming plans daily. The Alley Theater in Houston will make its production of “1984” available, for a limited time, to ticketholders and anybody interested in purchasing a viewing. In Chicago, Theater Wit will make its production of Mike Lew’s “Teenage Dick” available starting on March 20; customers will be able to buy access to a Vimeo link for the desired date and time. The Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., is looking to make its production of Dani Stoller’s “Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes” available online to ticketholders.
In New York City, the experimental institution La MaMa live-streamed several events last weekend, including a festival copresented with CultureHub and HowlRound, and it is looking to do more in the near future. Mia Yoo, La MaMa’s artistic director, pointed out that the organization has been building valuable experience since 2009, “because of the work we’ve done with live streaming and telematic performances where we’ve had audiences and artists in remote locations communicating or creating art together, or long-distance workshops with kids.”
Also in New York, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater obtained special permission from Actors’ Equity to record its production of “The Siblings Play” and should be able to stream it to ticket buyers starting this week.
We are also likely to see a booming number of individual initiatives like Young Jean Lee — who made a “low-fi” version of her show “We’re Gonna Die” (closed prematurely at Second Stage Theater) available on her website, and Broadway regulars Telly Leung and Alice Ripley, who teamed up for a live concert on the Stageit platform. On Friday, ACT of Connecticut and the Ridgefield Playhouse will stream a live concert that will include the composer Stephen Schwartz performing “Beautiful City,” from his musical “Pippin.”
But before a production can be live-streamed, it has to leap several hurdles.
Any group, professional or not, that wants to stream a play must get permission from its author — some of whom are more forthcoming with it than others. John Patrick Shanley — whose shows “Doubt” and “Welcome to the Moon” are popular licenses — said that he “just gave blanket permission for any and all request to live stream [my plays] to be granted, as opposed to case by case.”
Unions and professional associations are also hastily figuring out new legal and artistic goal posts when it comes to making theater accessible. And in the time of coronavirus, there’s the matter of public health.