I can relate to what Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Jill Anna Ponnasik posted on Facebook last week.
I mean...it’s been over a month since I’ve seen a live theatre show in a live theatre. I can only imagine how difficult this is for actors and performers on the local small stage. I see the Facebook posts, but I can only imagine what it’s like for them.
The Safer At Home Order continues to offer new challenges to the Milwaukee theatre community. It’s upended a lot of work and imposed a virally-induced early end to the 2019-2020 Milwaukee Theatre season. Theatre continues, though. This past month has featured a lot of really interesting work that has migrated online during a time of pandemic.
A couple of the single best-produced local theatre videos were released in conjunction with the presumed date of Shakespeare’s birth.
The American Players Theatre has delayed its season. APT has had some interesting activity on YouTube. James DeVita read some Tennyson yesterday. On Earth Day, James Ridge showed viewers around his yard. The Spring Green-based group posted a deeply moving Shakespeare mash-up on the 28th. It’s a well-edited fusion of many APT voices in the intimacy of home environments.
Closer to home, Mad Rogues teamed-up with Nō Studios and actors who have worked extensively for nearly every Shakespeare-producing company in Milwaukee to put together a staggeringly diverse one hour Bard & Bourbon Shakespeare Birthday Happy Hour. Mad Rogues’ Artistic Director Bryant Mason hosts actors intimately performing Shakespearian excerpts for the camera. There’s a hooded Grace DeWolff reading Sonnet XXX in the rain before a wall of cream city brick. Maura Atwood is similarly hooded in an endearing face-to-camera performance of some lines. of Juliet. Rebecca Farr reaches for something altogether more tragic in HER reading from that play indoors in front of a night sky tapestry. Maggie Marks performs "To be, or not to be" by way of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn as performed with a Cabbage Patch Kid-style doll (a strangely captivating bit of work.) The one hour, which is posted below includes all of this, The Summit Players, Schmitz & Giggles, Boozy Bard, gender-swapped Taming of the Shrew performance and more. It’s an enjoyable survey in local theatre from behind a glowing screen.
The video looked to raise funds for the Imagine MKE Artist Relief Fund, which is still looking to raise funds for local artists. For more information, visit Imagine MKE online.
Elsewhere online, Boozy Bard wrapped-up its Sickly Days only shorts series with its own cleverly patchwork group of readings from Shakespeare and others. Nick Firer struck an Alistair Cooke-like pose in a large, comfy chair beneath a large plush tiger as he exhibited contempt for a couple of Shakespearian sonnets. David Kaye performed a bit of monologue from Moll Cutpurse with drink in hand outside while performing at an interior camera viewing him through a window. Clever stuff. Andrea Roedel-Schroeder gave one of the sharpest Shakespearian sonnet performances of the month with a well-executed 2.5 minute performance. Roedel-Schroeder also posted a couple of really cool short story readings or Kaye’s Quarantine Variety Hour. Small stage talent has been providing some great short person-to-camera performances this month. Local actor Mark Neufang talks baking, Matt Zembroski plays the piano, Nicole Allee talks bout Gnome attacks and more. Quarantine Variety Hour still has a great many slots for Facebook Live video streaming channel.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Browsers
Having made it through a slightly shaky first run at the beginning of the month with As You Like It, Voices Found Rep hosted a fun reading of Julius Caesar on Twitch featuring an honorable Jessica Trznadel as the doomed emperor Caesar, Maya Danks as the cool conspirator Brutus and the crisply articulate Sarah Zapiain as Marc Antony. Full-cast Shakespeare by video conference probably doesn’t SOUND that engaging, but a sea of faces appearing onscreen actually fits the Caesarian feel quite well. The full performance is available on Twitch free of charge.
There are a couple of locally-written plays that will be performed online tonight. Pharyne Stephney-Gremore’s Built of Ivory is a drama about a biracial college student who must derail her ambitions in the interest of looking after her dying mother. The online performance, which features Raven Ariele and Kilian Collins, starts at 7:30 pm. There’s another performance on May 30th at 7:30 pm.
AND in just a few hours from when this is posted (at 7pm), Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Theater RED will present a live online reading of Angela Iannone’s The Seeds of Banquo. The drama of Edwin Booth should make for a deeply casual evening of drama at home.
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre also hosts a regular Monday Morning via Facebook Live with Michael’s Monday Morning Musings--Milwaukee Chamber’s Artistic Director Michael Wright offers an inside look at some of the things going on at MCT. Past guests have included Director Micheal Cotey and Associate Artistic Director Marcella Kearns. Actors Sam Douglas and Ian Toohill appear on the series in the weeks to come as well as Samantha Martinson (a remarkably talented actress in her own right who is serving as MCT’s Education Associate) and Actress/Educator/Dialect Coach Raeleen McMillion.