Live Vibrantly - December 1, 2020
by Amanda Ranowsky
The lights dim, and a hush descends. For a moment, all is dark. Soft sounds of the shuffle of feet and swish of heavy cloth promises excitement, intrigue, laughter and tears as a thrill of anticipation sneaks up your spine. Finally, the lights begin to rise.
There is nothing quite like that moment when a theater performance begins. For those of us who take great enjoyment from live theater productions, this year has meant missing out on moments like these.
As an active member of the Providence Players of Fairfax, a local community theater organization, I have felt the closure of theaters as both an audience member and an entertainer. Actor friends of mine continue to struggle both creatively and professionally. Many other friends are theater-lovers who are missing a beloved pastime.
As has been the case in many industries, there has also been a boom of innovation as the theater world finds its way through our current challenges. Theater companies around the globe have adapted so that actors and technicians can continue to create, and audiences can continue to engage and enjoy.
Increasingly, countless productions are being made available online and through streaming services. This is made possible thanks to actors and technicians who are applying their craft and skills to bring theater to life through Zoom recordings, made-for-streaming productions and radio plays.
Live theater provides the immediacy and intimacy of an experience shared between live performers and a live audience. While watching a recording of a theater production does not offer quite the same experience, I’d argue that it gets close.
The immediacy of live theater is still there, because in most cases you’re still watching how a single performance unfolded on a single night. Unlike films, theater isn’t recorded out of sequence, with many takes directed in order to get it just right. Also unlike cinematic recordings, streaming or recorded live productions often allow you to hear the audience reactions, allowing for a shared experience virtually rather than in person.
Pre-pandemic, if you wanted to see a professional theater production with big name performers and even bigger budgets, you’d have to venture into D.C., Baltimore or Richmond, board the train to New York City, or catch a flight to somewhere such as London’s West End. Unless you were able to snag a great deal, you might then expect to pay over $100 for a single ticket.
Now, more and more Broadway and West End-level productions are being made available online and through streaming services. Here are a few of my favorites:
In the mood for something a bit more local? Washington, D.C. has always had an amazing theater scene, and many local theaters have found ways to share old and new performances online.
The D.C. Metro Area is blessed to have a large number of community theater organizations. Pre-pandemic, there was an abundance of opportunities for amateur actors and technicians to create and audiences to enjoy quality theater at a reasonable price tag. While the pandemic cancelled most of the 2019-2020 season, many local community theaters have found ways to stay active by offering online and socially distanced performances.
Many theaters are offering recorded productions for a limited period of time. If you miss any of those listed above, be sure to check their websites for access to more productions in the future.
From professional productions around the world to community productions next door, there is something for everyone to enjoy. While we anxiously await the day our theaters can reopen, let us celebrate the innovation and creativity of the theater community by engaging in and supporting their many virtual offerings from the comfort of home.
As Marketing & Communications Specialist, Amanda Ranowsky partners with colleagues throughout Goodwin House Incorporated to tell our stories and raise brand awareness. From printed collateral to digital marketing, Amanda covers many bases. Before joining GHI, Amanda worked for a small, family-owned business where she gained experience in content marketing. Amanda’s creative expression extends beyond the office. She is an active member of community theater and chorus groups.