HT: Theater groups moving forward in the face of uncertainty
Joel Pierson | H-T Columnist
May 31, 2020
For this week, I checked in with three groups to see what’s new in their theatrical worlds.
I started with Cardinal Stage, where Cassie Hakken told me, “In the wake of the pandemic, we are retooling plans for our 2020-21 season and developing new, creative ways to bring theater to our audience. We have a few online programs already up and running and more engaging, theatrical activities and events in development.
“For our Cardinal for Kids Story Time Series, at noon on Wednesdays and Fridays, we will be sharing videos of Cardinal volunteers, artists and community members reading some favorite children’s stories. To watch, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or visit our YouTube page to see a collection of all past videos.”
She told me there’s news for adults, too. “We recently launched a new program: Cardinal Play Dates, a monthly script-reading club — like a book club, but for theater. Each month, we’ll read a different play or musical and then meet to discuss the piece. Anyone can join Play Dates for free, but members need to purchase scripts each month (or borrow them from the library). The group will meet virtually on the final Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m., until we are able to meet in person. To sign up for the Play Dates mailing list and join us for our June discussion, visit cardinalstage.org.
I asked Chad Rabinovitz what’s new at the Bloomington Playwrights Project, and he said he couldn’t tell me. Harrumph! Well, it’s only because they’ve got a very exciting announcement coming in the next couple of weeks, and he’ll share it with me when it’s ready.
Meanwhile, The Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre is starting a new round of online classes in June. Executive director John Armstrong says, “It’s been an incredible time to rethink how we do business. Prior to (the pandemic), we assumed students wouldn’t accept an online format, but this crisis has fundamentally changed that dynamic.”
“BAFT Online,” as it is being called, will feature personalized learning through small-group classes using videoconferencing. Children and adults can study ballet, filmmaking, storytelling, Shakespeare, puppetry, tap dance and musical theater performance. Other new adult classes include “A Crash Course in Video Effects,” “Speaking Confidently” and a “Digital Essentials for Actors” series.
In addition, Pigasus Pictures, the founding organization of BAFT, is launching the Pigasus Masterclass Series, in which casting directors, actors, agents and artists from around the country share their knowledge and expertise with the audiences.
I heard from Audrey Heller at Jewish Theatre of Bloomington, and she said, “Because of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of our staff, artists and patrons, we canceled our spring show, ‘The Wanderers,’ which would have been on stage this month. With the uncertainty about the spread and staying power of the Coronavirus, we can only make tentative plans for the immediate future. What we can promise is that as soon as it is safe to resume production, we will be back with bells on!”
The tentative 2020-21 JTB season includes a possible virtual staged reading of a yet-undecided play. The annual fall fundraiser is canceled. In December, they plan a production of Aaron Ricciardi’s “Hanukkah Harriet,” in collaboration with Stages Bloomington.
February will feature a workshop reading of the new musical adaptation of “The Dybbuk,” titled “Between Two Worlds,” by Joseph Donnelly and Joel Pierson. (You mean …? Yep, that same handsome columnist himself. Who could have known?) This workshop is in preparation for a full staging in fall 2021 with Ivy Tech Student Productions.
Come spring, the production of “The Wanderers” and the annual fundraiser will be back, in March for the event and April-May for the play. If all goes as planned, October 2021 will see a production of Arthur Feinsod’s “Table 17.”
All plans are tentative, of course, and as each draws near, I’ll tell you more about it. For now, stay healthy, try to avoid crowds, and please use protective gear, for the well-being of yourself and others.