George Floyd killing rocks NYC theater community
Even while theaters remain shut down citywide, the killing of George Floyd and the resulting national protests over racial inequity have reverberated throughout the theater industry and community. Several high-profile livestreamed events– including the Drama Desk Awards, the Obie Awards, the Public Theater’s annual gala and Broadway on Demand’s Tony Awards Celebration – have been postponed out of consideration for this moment in time. “Our hearts are heavy and our souls are weary. This is a time for reflection and mourning, for action and activism. It is not a time for celebration or diversion,” American Theatre Wing president Heather Hitchens said in a statement regarding the Obie Awards, which had been scheduled for June 4. Numerous theater companies, shows and artists have also posted online messages in support of Black Lives Matter. “We stand against racism. We stand for inclusion. We stand with our fellow Black artists, employees, audiences and the entire Black community,” the company of “The Lion King” wrote on Twitter.
Met Opera extends shutdown to Dec. 31
In a move that may signal how long the shutdown of Broadway may last, the Metropolitan Opera has cancelled all performances in the fall through Dec. 31, on which date it hopes to inaugurate its new season with a special gala performance. “The health and safety of our company members and our audience is our top priority, and it is simply not feasible to return to the opera house for a September opening while social distancing remains a requirement,” general manager Peter Gelb said in a statement. The extended shutdown necessitates the postponement of new productions of “Die Zauberflote,” “Don Giovanni,” “Aida” and “The Fiery Angel.” On March 12, 2020, the Metropolitan Opera closed its doors due to COVID-19 just hours before Broadway officially did. Since then, the Met has livestreamed a different opera every night.
Local officials discuss rent support with small theaters
Several local elected officials (including City Council Deputy Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and State Assembly Members Robert C. Carroll and Harvey Epstein) signaled their support for providing small theaters and arts organizations with rent forgiveness or other financial assistance due to COVID-19 at a virtual town hall meeting held last week by the League of Independent Theater. Van Bramer, who is also the chair of the Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, promised to devote the next month to making sure the arts community is not overlooked in future legislation. “We cannot allow all of you to be removed from the cultural landscape of the City of New York. There is no City of New York without artists. There is no theater community without small independent theaters,” Van Bramer said.
Ryan Murphy plans Broadway revivals of Larry Kramer dramas
Ryan Murphy (who directed a starry 2014 film adaptation of Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” for HBO) has purchased the rights to present “The Normal Heart” and “The Destiny of Me” (Kramer’s lesser-known sequel to “The Normal Heart”) in repertory on Broadway, the prolific producer-director revealed in an Instagram post celebrating the life of Kramer, who died last week. “His fundamental stubborn belief in equality for all made him perhaps the single greatest and most important gay activist of all time. His fight against government, discrimination, prejudice and big Pharma helped save millions of lives,” Murphy wrote.
This week’s streaming recommendations:
- Tosca (1978 telecast of Puccini romantic tragedy starring Pavarotti), June 4 at 7:30 p.m., metopera.org.
- The Romance of Magno Rubio (Ma-Yi Theater’s acclaimed 2003 drama about an illiterate Filipino farm worker in 1930s California), through June 4, may-yitheatre.org.
- Carousel (Concert presentation of classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical with Nathan Gunn and Kelli O’Hara), June 5 at 8 p.m., lincolncenter.org.
- Coriolanus (Donmar Warehouse production of Shakespeare’s military tragedy led by Tom Hiddleston), through June 11, nationaltheatre.org.uk.