Dear theatre friend,
I want to begin by taking issue with this New York Times article, “The Fourth Wall is My Laptop Screen,” by Laura Collins-Hughes. She contends that watching live plays online feels “flattened and far away. Frustrating by nature, pale relics of theatre, rather than theatre itself.”
Of course, we’d all like to be together breathing the same air as the actors on stage- but, what’s the purpose of iterating what online viewing is not? I’ve been assured by replies I’ve gotten, that readers have enjoyed viewing a play they may have missed, or wanted to see again. A different experience, no doubt, but one to be savored.
Case in point, from Noah Levine — magician, actor, poet, scholar (who learned Spanish in order to read “100 Years of Solitude” as written!)
“Not performing is certainly challenging but I’m trying to make the best of the situation. Being able to make videos has allowed me to experiment with new and unusual ideas in ways that are much more challenging in live performance.
“Inspired by your newsletter, I also made a video combining one of my favorite card tricks with a piece of a poem by John Ashberry.”
Aren’t we fortunate that we can see a poetry-spouting magician at home instead of waiting months for tickets to his perennially sold-out performances?
I also feel lucky to have had these
24 Hour Viral Monologues to view. Granted, these were made to be viewed on the screen, not on stage, but the immediacy is quite thrilling– a unique experience.
Since I haven’t been receiving as many stories by you to share, I asked the mother of a budding actor to tell us what her role has been like. I had worried that by supporting young actors’ careers, their parents mightn’t have appreciated my steering them away from other professions.
Mum (who prefers to remain anonymous) wrote that she hadn’t known another path, since her son was transfixed from the age of two by performances on stage. Lots of success in school and university productions convinced him that drama school was next.
“To be the mother of a young actor is a balancing act of promoting his self-belief, boosting his confidence, attempting to convince him that he will get a break, while listening to his passion to be in great plays, believing in his knowledge that plays can and do change the mindset of people, enhance wellbeing, and enrich lives.
“Sometimes the cost to the actor himself is painfully huge. Finishing a performance, often wracked and wrecked by emotion, removing makeup, changing clothes, turning the key to an empty flat– alone.
“Followed by the same shadowy figure night after night, talking to me about being stalked right to the front door. Afraid to mention his fears to the director– of being labelled an ingenue. Who said the ‘Me,too’ victims are just women?
“I fear he can’t take one more audition without getting the part. He worries about finances, struggling to pay rent yet not wanting to be subsidized by parents anymore
“And then– the joy! Standing back while he receives applause, acclaim, 5 star reviews. I’m always in the wings– with first night nerves, last night euphoria. I must be the steadying ship.”
In closing, it’s been gratifying to see how many initiatives are taking place to cope with this time of isolation. Here, from reader Susan Viebrock, is a link to the local Telluride Theatre Project.
Have any other ideas/ resources/ personal stories I could share? Please get in touch– my email, again:
I’ll be forced to find tales from my lifelong love affair with theatre and the arts if I don’t get more from you– please, please write a vignette — help to keep our connection alive for however long it takes.
And, once again, thank you for reading.
Carol Tambor publishes a monthly newsletter, which announces worthy shows coming to New York, along with occasional information about London theatre and, of course, the Edinburgh Fringe.