On Stage

Normal for Now

Onstage, it’s a virtual world

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The only thing I don’t miss about reviewing live theater is attempting to translate the almost-indecipherable notes I often scribble in the dark when actors or dancers or trapeze artists capture my attention.

Everything else I’d take back in a red-hot second—including the expectant hush in the audience before the lights come up, occasional glimpses of backstage costume changes, the din of voices during intermission, the palpable energy emanating from performers telling a story to the best of their ability, and the joy that comes from joining the crowd for a well-deserved standing ovation.

Alas, with rising coronavirus cases and new statewide restrictions concerning restaurants, museums gyms, public spaces and more, it doesn’t look like that scenario will be a viable one anytime soon. But with the health and safety of our community (and country) in mind, I’m adjusting to the normal-for-now method of watching live theater unfold from inside my home instead of from a seat in the audience at an arts venue, bar or outdoor proscenium.

To that end, there are a few locally sourced, performance-related virtual events to choose from in coming days. I’ve referenced a couple of them in prior issues, so if I repeat myself it’s only because I’m hoping people will stay engaged with the local stage scene.

For instance, a New Works Reading Series being live-streamed on YouTube from Western Washington University’s College of Fine and Performing Arts Thursdays and Fridays through Dec. 4 is worth another mention. The staged readings put together by professors Kamarie Chapman and Mark Kuntz feature works by both new and established playwrights, and follow themes of women breaking through adversity.

Remaining on the roster is The Medea Complex, which can be viewed, for free, at 7:30pm Nov. 19-20. Written by Patricia Crespin and directed by Diego Robledo, viewers will find out more about a woman on death row for multiple murders, and decide for themselves what sort of punishment she deserves for her “unspeakable” crimes. Tune in Dec. 3-4 for Emme and the Taking of the Woods, which is being directed by James Lortz and was written by Jef Petersen. The mythical tale focuses on Emme, a precocious 9-year-old who faces a destructive force in the woods in their own backyard.

A “Dance in Concert” series at WWU is also slated for this coming weekend, with live-streamed showings set for 7:30pm Sat., Nov. 21 and 2pm Sun., Nov. 22. This season’s series focuses on art and social justice, with guest choreographers working with a broad focus of mediums. In Dreams of a Sleeping World, New York City-based choreographer, dancer, educator and author Cameron McKinney (pictured) will use contemporary floor-work-oriented movements to juxtapose ensemble moments against a series of solos. Visual art by WWU faculty and students will also be part of the free performances. Sounds intriguing.

I’m also looking forward to tuning in to watch one of iDiOM Theater’s live-streamed showings of Samuel Beckett’s The Endgame at 7:30pm Fri.-Sat., Nov. 20-21 and 27-28. A recent press release cheekily noted that, “You might not expect to find much humor in this dismal post-apocalyptic theatrical world, but it is a comedy. Well, a tragic comedy. And there is plenty of tragedy too.”

Sean Cook, an alumni of WWU and former iDiOM stalwart, returned to Bellingham to direct the absurdist work—which Beckett considered his masterpiece for the stage—and actor Nathan Smith was also cajoled back to town to join the cast, which includes iDiOM artistic director Glenn Hergenhahn-Zhao, Anne Shannon, and Jeff Braswell.

I’ll report how opening weekend went in next week’s print issue of Cascadia Weekly, when I’ll review The Endgame in its entirety after I watch it being streamed live from the Lucas Hicks Theater at the Sylvia Center for the Arts.

The notes I’ll make on my computer screen while watching the online performance are sure to be legible, but I’d still return to a pre-pandemic world if given the chance—horrible penmanship and all.

For more details about these performances, go to http://www.cfpa.wwu.edu/events or http://www.sylviacenterforthearts.org

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