Has Valentine’s Day caught you by surprise this year? With everything else happening, planning a Valentine’s date may be the last thing on your to-do list. Not to worry—we’ve got three ways you can bring the romance right to your living room. Seattle Shakespeare Company, Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet are streaming performances throughout Valentine’s Day weekend so you can share the drama and enchantment of the performing arts with your love at home.
Roméo et Juliette
When you think of iconic romances a few come to mind; Jack and Rose, Wesley and Buttercup, Elizabeth and Mr. Darby, and of course, Romeo and Juliet. Pacific Northwest Ballet presents Jean-Christophe Maillot’s interpretation of the star-crossed lovers’ story. Maillot focuses his ballet on the youthfulness and extreme emotions that the titular characters experience. This beautiful choreography is accompanied by Sergei Prokofiev’s classic score.
We promise you and your partner’s evening will be far from ill-fated.
It wouldn’t be a proper Valentine’s Day without the master of love and desire: William Shakespeare. Seattle Shakespeare Company presents a collection of scenes, sonnets and songs from the Bard’s works that will inspire love, joy and romance. Directed by George Mount, Makaela Milburn and Lamar Legend, these selections will be performed by 21 talented artists, many of whom you may recognize from Seattle Shakespeare and other local Seattle performances.
Back by popular demand, Seattle Opera presents this romantic comedy for a second time after its resounding success in November 2020. With music by Gaetano Donizetti and a libretto by Felice Romani, The Elixir of Love tells the age-old story of a man going to extreme lengths to win the heart of his love. Naive Nemorino purchases a “love potion” from a shady source to use on Adina, and somehow it works! Enjoy this staging designed specifically for streaming at home, where you can sing along—if you know Italian, that is.
This month enjoy Black history, Black arts, Black artists, and Black heritage through a virtual or drive-in event. We have compiled a few opportunities throughout Black History Month to get involved. Don’t forget to follow these organizations and artists to learn about future events and to stay involved in Black-focused arts year-round; the importance of Black voices is not prescribed to one month.
August Wilson Reading Challenge
Celebrate Black History Month with Seattle Rep by joining the August Wilson Reading Challenge. To ramp up for the 11th annual August Wilson Monologue Challenge, Seattle Rep is inviting the community to read all 10 plays in August Wilson’s American Century Cycle during February. Get involved by sharing your inspiration for participation and why Wilson’s works are important to you.
Beginning on February 12, Seattle Rep will host virtual book club meetings to delve deeper into the Century Cycle and discuss the plays with others.
Learn more about the event and where to find the plays here.
African Dance Class
Join a class this month with Gansango Music & Dance. Every Monday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. or Fridays at 7 p.m., you can join an online class with Etienne Cakpo where you will learn contemporary African dance and traditional dance from Benin. All levels are welcome!
“Sites of Power”is the latest Black Imagination exhibition-slash-experience co-created in community to center and amplify the resonance of intersectional Black voices. Viral conceptual artist, Natasha Marin, led the evocative iteration of this on-going project with award-winning director, Jay O’Leary Woods. Including living testimonies, audio files, videos, and visual art, there is plenty here to enjoy.
Listen, watch and imagine with the online exhibit here.
A Night at the Opera: Celebrating Black Voices
February 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Northwest African American Museum and Seattle Opera present a live, drive-in event at the Museum of Flight. The event will present contemporary Black singers, ranging from soprano to baritone, performing pieces that highlight and celebrate Black history. Performers include Frederick Ballentine, Damien Geter, Jasmine Habersham and Jorell Williams.
Charcoal, Wood, and Metal: Charmaine Lurch’s “Being, Belonging and Grace”
February 16 at 12 p.m.
Wa Na Wari presents a virtual lecture by Katherine McKittrick, Professor of Gender Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Drawing on Sylvia Wynter’s “rethinking aesthetics” and Andrea Fatona’s “undulating depths of fields,” this paper will theorize the charcoal drawings of visual artist Charmaine Lurch as unwieldy and provisional moments of joy. Rather than exalting Black joy, the paper will demonstrate how Lurch’s aesthetic decisions visually gesture blackness as a location of entanglement, one that captures brief moments of happiness—relief, actually—and nests them within the broader context of racial violence, colonialism and extraction.
Black Theatre Beyond the Politics of Representation
February 23 at 5 p.m.
Intiman Theatre presents a Black History Month virtual conversation with Stacie McCormick, PhD and Wind Dell Woods, MFA/PhD, hosted by Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud, PhD. Discussing questions such as, what are the tensions embedded in the politics of representation for Black theatre artists? How can Black theatre become a liberatory space that pierces the veneer of how blackness gets to be represented on stage?
Co-presented by the Black Heritage Society of Washington State and MOHAI, this virtual event features places, people and legacies shared by community members Eddie Rye, Ryan Donaldson, and Chardonnay Beaver. Hear stories of how moments have impacted their lives as they answer the question: how does history shape who you are?
Truth & Meaning at Play: The Work of a Contemporary Dramaturg
February 26 at 5:30 p.m.
Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg Phillipa Kelly speaks with Dr. Martine Kei Green-Rogers in this virtual series. Green-Rogers will describe how she and director Ron OJ Parson have approached the staging of August Wilson’s plays. In the same spirit of Wilson pushing the truths (the good and the bad) of the Black experience into a larger limelight until the day he died, Green-Rogers will discuss how her work on Wilson’s canon at the Court Theatre with Parson resists, complicates, and exposes the patterns of oppression that Black people in the U.S. experience while also celebrating the joy that is being Black in the U.S.
Living Jazz presents a unique series of intimate conversations featuring some of the world’s most iconic jazz musicians. This event focuses on the role of the artist as a catalyst for change with Grammy award-winning bassist Christian McBride.
Moderated by Andre Kimo Stone Guess, McBride will speak candidly about the inspiration behind their music, their struggles and victories, what it means to be an artist during these challenging times, and what the future holds for the music industry. The virtual event will include a question-and-answer segment with audience participation.
Artist Trust hosts Community Conversation: Racial Equity on February 4, 2021 at 5 to 6:15 p.m.
In an upcoming virtual event on February 4, artist Anastacia-Renee will lead a discussion that explores how Artist Trust “and other artist-serving organizations interrupt white supremacy”.
As many of us meet the new year with equal measures of renewed hope and lingering trepidation, Artist Trust is welcoming it, and you, with opportunities for improvement and change. On February 4, Artist Trust will hold Community Conversation: Racial Equity, the second in a virtual event series. Anastacia-Renee will be joined by Washington artists Raleigh Hawthrone, Emma Noyes, Elisheba Johnson and Che Sehyun to discuss how organizations that serve the artistic community can combat racism and white supremacy. The conversation will be followed by a question-and-answer session with attendees.
This community event is part of Artist Trust’s larger undertaking to dismantle racial inequity for people of color in artist-focused organizations, including their own. In July 2020, Artist Trust was urged by the community to confront the institutional racism and white supremacy within their own organization. Other steps include hiring a racial equity consultant to review the organization’s programs, resources, development, communications and operations, and creating a new Racial Equity Committee. All with the goal of igniting a cultural change within Artist Trust and their donors, volunteers, artists and partner organizations.
Community Conversation: Racial Equity will be held on Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 5 to 6:15 p.m. You can RSVP for the free event and learn more about the discussion leaders here.
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.