amBroadway: Fauci hopeful for theater reopening, actors accuse union of unsafe work standards and more

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Fully Committed
Courtesy of George Street Playhouse

Fauci still hopeful for fall theater reopening

Two months ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci (who has offered thoughts on how and when live theater can return throughout the pandemic) predicted that theaters would be able to reopen “sometime in the fall of 2021” so long as the vast majority of the population got vaccinated. On Tuesday, while making opening remarks during a National Endowment for the Arts webinar, Dr. Fauci repeated his prediction, saying that “based on current projections, I believe we likely could see a return to more fully open movie and Broadway theaters sometime in the fall,” while adding that “this is no guarantee.”

Armory postpones dance piece after performers test positive

This week I was all set to attend Bill T. Jones’s new socially-distanced dance piece “Afterwardness” at the Park Avenue Armory, which was going to mark my first indoor professional production in just over a year. But a few days beforehand I received an email advising that “Afterwardness” was being pushed back to the spring because three cast members had tested positive for COVID. “While this is greatly disappointing for the artists, the Armory and our audiences, this postponement is part of the process of our collectively returning to in-person performances in responsible and safe ways,” president and executive producer Rebecca Robertson said in a statement. The Armory is also about to present new works by singer-songwriter David Byrne and performance artist Laurie Anderson. 

Actors accuse their union of unrealistic safety standards

Long-simmering tensions between professional stage actors and their union, Actors’ Equity Association, spilled into public view this week. For months, Equity has forbidden its members from working on any productions that did not meet its rigorous safety standards, and concern is growing that Equity is causing its members to unnecessarily lose employment opportunities. Thousands of Equity members have signed an open letter criticizing  “the impracticality and numerous impossibilities” of Equity’s safety protocols and “the lack of practical details in how to return to work.” In response, Equity has agreed to hold a town hall event to discuss “the path forward for live theater.”

‘Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death’ to receive Broadway revival

“Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death,” a rarely-revived 1971 musical by actor and writer Melvin Van Peebles (who is best known for the 1971 blaxploitation film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”) exploring the difficulties of African-American with a score comprised of funk, soul, jazz and blues, will receive a Broadway revival in 2022 directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon (“The Wiz,” “A Raisin in the Sun”). Mario Van Peebles, the writer’s son, who is part of the producing team, said in a statement that the musical “is more relevant than ever and America is finally ready for it.” 

This week’s streaming recommendations…

“Fully Committed” (Maulik Pancholy leads Becky Mode’s one-man comedy in which he plays an out-of-work actor manning the phones of a trendy restaurant as wells as the dozens of people seeking a reservation), through April 11, georgestreetplayhouse.org…“The Aran Islands” (stage adaptation of J.M. Synge’s writings about his visits to remote Irish islands), through March 28, irishrep.org.

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