Olney Theater’s Streaming Saturdays Allows Artists to Envision a Post-COVID-19 World
May 15, 2020 @ 1:28pm
In response to the fear and talk surrounding the DMV theater community in the wake of COVID-19, Olney Theatre Center has started “Streaming Saturdays: Artists Envision the Future,” a series of virtual conversations where artists talk about what they see as the future of the industry.
“We saw this as an opportunity to give artists a teeny bit of money but also hear from them about how the world is going to look different when we come back and how we should embrace that with as much imagination, brave spirit and fire as we possibly can,” says OTC Artistic Director Jason Loewith.
The stream will broadcast at 5 p.m. on the OTC Facebook and YouTube pages, with Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks and Loewith hosting on alternate Saturdays. Marks’ discussions will be with artists in different parts of the industry, while Loewith will talk with Olney-affiliated artists associated with productions slated for its upcoming 2020-21 season.
“When the pandemic first began, we had dozens of Zoom calls with colleagues and everything was so downbeat and disgusting – we needed to figure out a way to think ahead and be less depressed,” Loewith says. “Our industry is full of incredibly smart and creative people, and we wanted to hear from them. We brought in Peter Marks to moderate so it didn’t feel like just an Olney thing but something that would be for the whole theater community.”
The first discussion on May 9, which featured DMV artistic directors Ryan Rilette of Round House, Raymond O. Caldwell of Theater Alliance, Maria Manuela Goyanes of Woolly Mammoth and Loewith, was watched by more than 1,000 people live, and the recording has been watched by thousands more from all over the world.
“In the pandemic’s early days, we sponsored a discussion with local artistic directors and Peter, grappling with what the new environment would mean for theater,” Loewith says. “One of the big takeaways from that discussion was that there were a lot more perspectives we need to hear. Not just artistic directors, but actors, stage managers, playwrights and directors. We’re grateful Peter graciously agreed to sign up for more.”
Tomorrow on May 16, Loewith will host a discussion with Paige Hernandez, the director/choreographer of this season’s Helen Hayes Nominated The Royale, who is returning to direct Claire Barron’s incendiary dream-play Dance Nation. Barron will also be on the live stream.
“I thought two of them would have sparkling conversation,” Loewith says. “They are both fairly early-ish in their careers – a generation earlier than me. We will talk about the play itself, Paige and Claire’s musings about the future and how they hope to see theater change after this Darwinian effect on our industry. Then we will take questions form all the folks who watched.”
In the weeks ahead, Marks will moderate discussions among actors and stage managers on May 23, directors on June 6 and Futurecasting with Todd London on June 13.
For the May 23 class, Marks will meet with actors Dylan Arredondo (former National Player and the upcoming Disney’s Beauty and the Beast); Evan Casey (The Amateurs), Jade Jones, (Ford’s Theater’s Into the Woods); and Tracy Lynn Olivera, (Matilda the Musical); plus stage manger Karen Currie.
Upcoming discussions with Loewith include those involved in OTC’s The Music Man on May 30 and the world premiere musical A.D. 16 on June 20.
“Our community values storytelling so much,” Loewith says. “Is the community going to step up when this is over or is fear going to get in the way? So far, all our conversations have been pretty optimistic. We try to get people who are not super half-glass-empty.”
For more information or a full view of the Streaming Saturdays programming, visit here.
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