Museums are the corner stone of culture in our region, ranging from fine art to anthropology to culture. Due to the severe impact of COVID-19 and the extended closure of museums, it is important that we embrace and re-engage with these cultural organizations.
Encore partnered with ArtsFund, 4Culture and local museums to create The Museum Guide to help educate, engage and safely invite patrons back into museums. As a cooperative marketing effort, The Museum Guide was mailed to museum members and patrons across the Puget Sound region promoting upcoming exhibits, event—both in-person and virtual, and new entry processes to keep all visitors safe.
Enjoy reading The Museum Guide to help you plan a visit to a museum in the coming weeks and months. Join us in saying ‘Welcome Back’ to our cultural community!
The Digital Beethoven Fest will take place June 22–26 and will include panel discussions, performances, and family programming to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday.
Last year—before any of us had heard of the Corona virus—Seattle Symphony announced that they would be celebrating Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday with a festival. Originally planned to take place over three weeks this month, the festival would highlight all nine symphonies performed by the orchestra, as well as music created, inspired and performed by the community.
The Beethoven Festival performances and events have, of course, been canceled as a result of COVID-19. However, the Seattle Symphony has announced that they will be presenting a Digital Beethoven Fest instead. The Symphony, led by Music Director Thomas Dausgaard, will offer hosted panel discussions with orchestra musicians and local artists and composers; the family program, Tiny Tots; and special Morning Notes performances throughout the week by members of the orchestra and partner artists.
All performances and programs will be available through Seattle Symphony’s YouTube channel.
Hosted Panel Discussion: Thomas Dausgaard & Paul Chiyokten Wagner
San Francisco Opera has announced they will be canceling their entire 2020 fall season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellations will include their Opening Night Celebration (September 11), Fidelio (September 12–October 1), Rigoletto (September 13–October 4), Così fan tutte (October 6–28), The Handmaid’s Tale (October 29–November 22), and La Bohème (November 15–December 6).
The decision to cancel the five operas in the fall 2020 season comes from the current guidelines and recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Matthew Shilvock, San Francisco Opera’s general director, announced the cancellation saying, “It is heartbreaking to have to make this announcement today. It will mean a full year without opera on the War Memorial stage and the loss of projects that would have connected powerfully with our world today.”
San Francisco Opera plans to return with the planned spring 2021 season which will include The Barber of Seville (April 25–May 16) and Der Zwerg (April 27–May 15). The opera company will also continue offering virtual events and digital content through their website as part of their Opera Is ON programming.
Due to the fall performance cancellations, the renovations of the War Memorial Opera House, which were originally planned to take place May–August, 2021, have been rescheduled for this fall. This will allow for the possibility of offering more performances and other events next summer, when it is safe for the public to return.
San Francisco Opera has asked ticketholders of the fall 2021 season to consider contributing their ticket purchases as a donation or receiving a gift certificate for the value of the tickets to assist the opera during these financially difficult times. Refund information is also available on their website.
Opera is ON programming can be found on San Francisco’s website.
Whether you want to dive deep into a Netflix series, join an August Wilson book club, or learn about writing from a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, we’ve got 10 things for you to watch, read and listen to from Black artists and community members. While most of these videos, essays, podcasts and groups focus on Black representation and experience in the arts, some are more general and focus on the political and societal injustices of Black people in America with ways that you can learn more.
Black Representation in the Arts
Seattle Opera hosts this community conversation that explores questions like: How does the storytelling change when Black creators and artistic leaders are the ones making decisions behind the scenes? How can companies help to undo harm, create a more diverse pipeline of talent, implement more race-affirming performance practices, and ultimately, enable the decolonization of these historically white-dominated art forms?
The conversation is led by Seattle Opera Scholar in Residence Naomi André, professor at the University of Michigan and author of Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement. Speakers include Theresa Ruth Howard, formerly of Dance Theatre of Harlem and founder and curator of the Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, and Bridgette A. Wimberly, award-winning poet, playwright and librettist of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.
This interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece features an all-Black cast including Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black, Broadway’s The Color Purple) and Grantham Coleman (Buzzer, The Americans) as the sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick. Tony Award winner Kenny Leon (American Son, A Raisin in the Sun) directs with choreography by Tony Award nominee Camille A. Brown (Choir Boy).
When They See Us is a miniseries that tells the true story of New York’s Exonerated Five. In 1989, five teenagers of color were wrongfully arrested, charged and incarcerated with the crime of rape and murder. The miniseries explores the institutional racism, coercion and injustice these boys and their families faced. Watch the miniseries and use the study guide to challenge yourself to think deeply and self-reflectively about systemic injustice and how you can take action.
“My goal when making When They See Us was to create a project that could be a catalyst for conversation and change. Entertainment serves many purposes and the mission was to create something that might move us into action while challenging us to evaluate why we believe what we believe.”
As part of American Conservatory Theater’s Meads Reads book club for plays, Director of Dramaturgy and New Work Joy Meads hosts a lively conversation surrounding a rich dramatic text. After reading the same play, the group will gather on Zoom to explore its layers of meaning. Each play comes with a suggestion for dinner from a local restaurant and/or a drink recipe from a local mixologist, and A.C.T. will partner with small publishers, local booksellers and individual playwrights to make scripts available.
The upcoming play for the reading group is August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. This 1982 play is part of August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle and is set in 1920s Chicago (the only one of the 10 plays to take place outside Pittsburgh). The play deals with the racial exploitation of a Black blues singer by her white manager and record company owner.
Black Women’s Leadership in the Opera: A Century in the Making
An essay by Whitney French discussing the opera Treemonisha. Before COVID-19 forced a cancellation, Stanford Live was preparing to present the world premiere of Treemonisha, a reimagined version of the 1911 opera by Scott Joplin, which was the first opera written about life post-slavery by a Black person. French’s essay explores the modernizing of the original source material by a predominantly Black, female creative team.
“[My hope is] that they would be inspired by Treemonisha. This idea of self-realization, self-actualization, and courage keeps us inspired and lifted. I feel passionately that this story can capture those common human aspirations.”
I am Wole, I am Heiner: For a Fully Realized Representation of Brown Artists on Stage
In this essay, Sadie Berlin, a theatre and performance artist, questions assumptions projected upon marginalized voices, including the performance of oppression and the obligation to chronicle social disease. This essay is one of five-part series, Beyond the Western Canon, in which writers and theatre artists look beyond the “Western Canon.” Artists image how we can create more inclusive future canons of work and challenge current dominant views and structures in theatre and plays.
“The margin is where live our fears, disgust, neglect, ignorance, intolerance, our deepest desires. In those hidden parts live the marginalized and we as a society cannot progress without focus on margins.”
This podcast is hosted by two doctoral theatre students, Jordan Ealey and Leticia Ridley. The podcast features reviews of Black theatre productions (mainly in the DC/Baltimore area), current national conversations around, within, and about Black theatre, academic discussions concerning Black theatre, recommendations on Black theatre scripts, and interviews with Black theatre artists. This podcast centers and privileges the narratives of Black theatremakers, scholars and audiences while also underscoring the need for understanding the influence of Black theatre on the American theatre landscape.
Black Theatre Matters is a bi-weekly podcast covering the plays, people, and topics of importance to Black Theatre. Every other week they will explore stories that support, celebrate and highlight the achievements and issues of Black Theatre artists in the U.S. and throughout the diaspora. Hosted by Plowshare Theatre Company’s Producing Artistic Director Gary Anderson, Black Theatre Matters is about the intersection of culture, politics, and Blackness.
The most recent episode, “The New Normal” touches on the effect COVID-19 has and will continue to have on Black theatre artists.
In partnership with MOHAI (Museum of History & Industry), Northwest African American Museum invites you to join a virtual dialogue on the topic of democracy in the United States. Moderator, Moni Tep and guest, Gennette Cordova—writer and founder of the nonprofit Lorraine House—will explore the topics of voter suppression, demographics that are included and excluded from the voting process, how to sift through information on candidates, and personal reflections on their participation/non-participation, plus the historical significance of those choices. Tune in to the dialogue and participate by submitting your own questions in Zoom.
The Public Theater presents Watch Me Work, a masterclass with playwright Suzan-Lori Parks,livestreamed on HowlRound TV along with a Zoom session that the public can register for. The class is one hour, in which the first 20 minutes Parks and Zoom attendants will work on their writing. In the last 40 minutes, Parks will answer questions from attendants about being a writer and her process.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre has announced their upcoming season which will begin in late winter of next year, instead of the customary autumn start. The specific run dates of the performances have not been announced yet, but the announcement of the 2021 season is an encouraging sign for theatre audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area who have been waiting to see how COVID-19 will affect regional theatres next season.
“The launch of our 2021 season is a promise to our patrons that we will be back and we will reopen when it is deemed safe to reopen,” said Managing Director Susie Medak. “It also signals our investment in the future—a return to normalcy, and the future of Berkeley Rep.”
Artistic Director Johanna Pfaelzer announced the 2021 season in a video to audiences, revealing it will include three world premieres, one of which, Swept Away, was slated to premiere during the 2019-20 season before being canceled.
“I feel incredibly grateful at this moment to be able to look toward the future, and to plan for a time when Berkeley Rep will once again be a place where we will gather,” said Pfaelzer. “The plays and musicals in this upcoming season include stories of lovers, of activists, of dreamers, of sacrifice, and of hope.”
Performances begin in late winter 2021.
Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok brings us an urgent story about the power of perseverance, the promise of safety, and the question of who is entitled to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Two young DREAMers fight like hell to establish a place for themselves in America, the only country they know as home. Berkeley Rep gives this unforgettable play its West Coast premiere.
Performances begin in late winter 2021.
Berkeley Rep welcomes back Charles L. Mee and Les Waters, who have brought so much delight to audiences with shows such as Fêtes de la Nuit and Big Love. With a wink to Magritte, a nod to Shakespeare, and a toast to the Greeks, Wintertime plunges us gleefully into the center of the strange and surreal terrain we call love.
Jonathan brings Ariel to his family’s summer house in the winter woods and plans to propose. Then his mother Maria arrives with her lover Francois, and his father Frank shows up with his lover Edmund—and soon nothing goes as planned. Generously embracing this family in all their chaotic, beautiful humanity, this exhilarating rollercoaster of a play whisks us up the peaks of romance, then down to the depths of jealous despair, never letting us forget that love, like life, is always in motion.
Performances begin in spring 2021.
Three-time Tony Award nominee Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) makes his Berkeley Rep debut with his latest award-winning off-Broadway hit, Octet. Eight internet addicts gather IRL to share their stories via a transcendent score for an a cappella chamber choir and an original libretto inspired by online comment boards, scientific debates, religious texts, and Sufi poetry.
More than a takedown of our smartphone addictions, Octet is a sublime and revelatory experience that asks how we can find ways to be truly present with each other.
Cambodian Rock Band
Performances begin in spring 2021.
The award-winning hit show that rocked audiences across the country and off Broadway comes to Berkeley Rep! In this darkly funny, electric new play with music, a young woman attempts to piece together her family history and bring a Khmer Rouge war criminal to justice 30 years after her father fled Cambodia. With a live band playing contemporary Dengue Fever hits and classic Cambodian oldies, this thrilling story toggles back and forth in time as father and daughter face the music of the past. San Francisco-born, Steinberg Award-winning playwright Lauren Yee receives her Berkeley Rep debut with Cambodian Rock Band, which was developed in the Ground Floor Summer Residency Lab.
Performances begin in late spring 2021.
Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) blew the roof off Berkeley Rep in 2009 with Green Day’s American Idiot. Now he returns with a captivating world premiere musical, this time featuring a book by Tony Award-winning stage and screen writer John Logan (Red, Broadway’s Moulin Rouge!, Skyfall, Gladiator), and music and lyrics by “America’s biggest roots band” (Rolling Stone) and multiple Grammy Award nominee The Avett Brothers.
1888, off the coast of New Bedford, MA. When a violent storm sinks their whaling ship, the four surviving souls—a young man in search of adventure, his older brother who has sworn to protect him, a captain at the end of a long career at sea, and a worldly first mate who has fallen from grace—each face a reckoning: How far will I go to stay alive? And can I live with the consequences?
The Ripple, the Wave That Carried Me Home
Performances begin in early fall 2021.
In this world premiere commissioned by Berkeley Rep, playwright Christina Anderson exquisitely evokes a story about justice, legacy, memory, and the ultimate challenge of forgiveness.
Janice’s parents are prominent activists fighting for the integration of public swimming pools in 1960s Kansas. As injustice penetrates the warm bubble of her childhood, Janice grows apart from her family and starts a new life far away. When she receives a call asking her to speak at a ceremony honoring her father, she must decide whether she’s ready to reckon with her political inheritance and a past she has tried to forget.
Performances begin in fall 2021.
Berkeley Rep presents the world premiere of a sultry new musical with a book by award-winning playwright Jocelyn Bioh (School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play), a score by composer Michael Thurber, and conceived by director Saheem Ali.
A young man returns home to the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya to marry his fiancée and step into his family’s political dynasty. But when he visits Moto Moto—a steamy afro-jazz club and the stomping ground of his youth—he finds himself drawn to a mysterious new singer. Inspired by the myth of Marimba, who created beautiful songs from her heartbreak, Goddess is infused with contemporary romance, ancient magic, and the irresistible vibes of African, jazz, and R&B music.
You can view Pfaelzer’s full video announcement below:
Subscriptions for the 2021 season are available now for purchase. Berkeley Rep offers three package options, ranging from a seven-play subscription to a pay-as-you-go option. Subscribe here.
Further cancellations and postponements have been announced by Seattle Theatre Group and Broadway at The Paramount regarding their three remaining shows of the 2019-2020 season, Anastasia, Mean Girls and Chicago, as well as the upcoming 2020-21 season.
The three remaining summer performances at The Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle have either been postponed or canceled in response to COVID19 and social distancing orders. Anastasia, which was scheduled for June 16–21, has been postponed with hopeful reschedule dates of December 15–20, however, these dates have yet to be confirmed.Ticketholders are asked to hold on to their tickets until reschedule dates are confirmed.
Mean Girls, scheduled August 4–9 has been canceled, but will be rescheduled as part of the 2021-22 season. Chicago, which had been rescheduled from April performance dates to August 20–23, has been canceled along with the entire National tour.
The National tours for Blue Man Group (November 6–8) and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (December 8–20) have also been canceled, and subsequently Broadway at The Paramount’s engagements along with them.
Tickets for all canceled performances have been returned to the ticketholder’s package and can be used for other Broadway at The Paramount performances.
The Band’s Visit (October 6–11) has been rescheduled for July 6–11, 2021. Ain’t Too Proud (January 13–24, 2021) has been rescheduled for next summer as well: August 24–29, 2021.Tickets for these performance has been transferred to the reschedule dates automatically and ticketholders can review their new performance dates by logging into their Seattle Theatre Group account.
Village Theatre has announced that they will move KIDSTAGE, their youth education program, online for the summer session following a successful virtual spring quarter. Classes will take place on Zoom and begin on June 6.
As social distancing orders continue and planning for summer education and activities begins, organizations are looking at alternative ways to keep their programs running. Village Theatre is no exception. KIDSTAGE, the regional theatre’s youth education program, is one of the most extensive musical theatre programs in the country, reaching over 5,000 children and teens each year.
With such a developed and essential program, it’s no wonder Village Theatre is reluctant to cancel programming for the summer, when many kids need the interaction the most. “Connecting with peers and having a safe place for self-expression has really helped our students deal with the isolation of quarantine,” said Director of Youth Education Kati Nickerson of the successful spring quarter, which began holding virtual classes online after the stay-at-home order went into effect.
KIDSTAGE is open to children and teens entering Pre-K to age 20 and will run June 6 to July 24. With over 30 summer classes, KIDSTAGE will have themed courses for younger children, like Frozen, Star Wars and Harry Potter, while classes for teens include acting for the camera, songwriting and technical theatre. Village Theatre is planning to offer camps at both their Issaquah and Everett locations after July 27 if state orders allow.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s critically acclaimed Broadway musical will be making its screen debut much earlier than originally announced with the help of Disney+, The Walt Disney Company’s streaming service. The film, directed by Thomas Kail, will give audiences at home “the best seat in the house” according to Miranda.
The original Broadway production of Hamiltonastounded audiences and critics alike when it premiered in 2015. The musical tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, with some modern twists. The show’s music is heavily influenced by hip hop, R&B, pop and soul, as well as more traditional show tune styles. The casting is consciously diverse, with people of color playing Founding Fathers and other historical figures.
This modernized take on American history won 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, among many other accolades for the original staging and subsequent productions.
With all the hype comes a difficulty in obtaining tickets. After continually selling out on Broadway, Hamilton went on the road with a North American tour in 2017. Tickets were notoriously difficult to get and many that weren’t able to attend have been waiting for the second round of touring, which will hit the West Coast next year—in time for COVID-19 closures to hopefully be at an end.
Perhaps in response to the public’s inability to access live theatre in recent months, The Walt Disney Company, along with show producers Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeffrey Seller and Thomas Kail, decided to fast track the release of the film. Originally planned to be released on October 15, 2021, it will now be available to all Disney+ subscribers on July 3—just in time for Independence Day celebrations.
“I’m so grateful to Disney and Disney+ for reimagining and moving up our release to July 4th weekend of this year, in light of the world turning upside down,” Miranda stated. “I’m so grateful to all the fans who asked for this, and I’m so glad that we’re able to make it happen. I’m so proud of this show. I can’t wait for you to see it.”
The version to be released was filmed at The Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in 2016. The cast includes Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton; Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson; Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler; Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr; Tony Award nominees Christopher Jackson as George Washington; Jonathan Groff as King George; Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton; and Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds; Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison; and Anthony Ramos as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton.
The two-day fundraising event raised $18.4 million for 1,630 nonprofit organizations in Washington. There were over 88,300 individual donations that were made on May 5 and 6.
This year’s donations have far surpassed those of 2019, suggesting that increasing the event from a single day to two days was a smart move. In addition to extending the event, GiveBIG collaborated with GivingTuesday, a global generosity movement that culminates in a day of global giving (May 5). GiveBIG recognized the increased need from nonprofits due to COVID-19 and stepped up with increased social action and partnerships to respond effectively.
In 2018, GiveBIG was in danger of disappearing after the Seattle Foundation, who had managed and promoted the event since 2011, announced they wouldn’t continue the following year. However, 501 Commons stepped in and worked closely with the Seattle Foundation to become GiveBIG’s new home in 2019.
Understandably, the change in command caused some growing pains that affected the total donation amount. Last year—the first with 501 Commons managing the event—raised $11.4 million. No pocket change, but also not as impressive as the numbers before the organizational changes.
But this year, with their legs under them, new partnerships, and an extended deadline, GiveBIG 2020 has surpassed their goal and raised the most in donations since 2016. Considering we are currently in a time of a global pandemic, with many people out of work and certainly everyone trying to save money, it is astounding—and inspiring—that this year’s GiveBIG was such a success. You only need to look at the numbers to see that in times of crisis we will still come together to invest in the organizations that ensure our community thrives.
Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Wooden O was scheduled to run July 9–August 9, and present The Comedy of Errors and Othello.
A day after Washington Governor Inslee announced the extension of the stay-at-home order and the multi-staged plan for the summer months, Seattle Shakespeare has announced that their free Shakespeare in the park program, Wooden O, is canceled. Although expected, it is just one more disappointment of our current reality.
Seattle Shakespeare Artistic Director George Mount sited the health and wellbeing of patrons, artists and staff to be paramount, even if it means canceling their entire summer of performances.
However, Mount hinted that audiences should still expect some form of entertainment from Seattle Shakespeare, stating, “We do hold out hope that some make-shift, impromptu, pop-up events or online surprises could happen, if safe conditions and guidelines allow. Stay tuned for any and everything. As we’ve all experienced in the last several weeks, things change rapidly and often unexpectedly.”
Twenty-six years ago, Wooden O had its inaugural season with three performances of Much Ado About Nothing at Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island. Since then it has grown, now touring 14 different parks around the region from Everett to Tacoma. Last summer, Wooden O performed to more than 12,000 patrons over two months—all free of charge.
As daunting as current circumstances may be, for audiences and the theatre, Seattle Shakespeare is looking forward to the summer of 2021, when they will perform the plays they planned for this year, The Comedy of Errorsand Othello. So let’s look forward with them, to a time when we can pack a picnic basket, spread out a blanket, and enjoy a performance of Shakespeare in our beautiful parks.
During this difficult time, theatres are being hit especially hard. Seattle Shakespeare Company is currently throwing their annual fundraiser, Bill’s Bash. Now through May 4, you can make a donation, host a mini-bash with your friends, and register for the silent auction. The live auction and celebration will take place on May 3 at 5:30 p.m.