COVID-19 has shut down every show in town. Every. Single. Show. Even the multiplexes are down. Local small stage theatre types are performing before little cameras in kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and home offices all over Milwaukee. It’s an opportunity to look at some VERY off-center work being done by local performing artists. Sadly, Liz Shipe’s live radio performance of The Adventures of Alvin Tatlock had to be canceled, but there’s still a lot of stuff going on out there with local performers. Here’s a look at some of my favorites that are available now and/or coming-up soon:
Sickly Days Shows with Boozy Bard
The traditional Boozy Bard show has a lot of people congregating around in a tap room or a microbrewery or some such performing shows vastly unprepared with little to no prep time. This is perfect for the days of Stay Safe at Home in Milwaukee...save for the whole ”congregating together” thing. Boozy Bard’s Jeremy Eineichner and company are going to be performing a regular stay-at-home version of their show on Facebook. Shows run Tuesday and Thursday nights starting at 7 pm. The communal nature of theater may not be there, but since liquor stores are considered essential and therefore immune from Wisconsin's Safer at Home, audience members can settle-in and drink along with the microbrew of their choice while supporting the local small brewery of their choice.
Outskirts TheatreCo. will be presenting a series of five locally-written ten-minute shorts via Livestream on Friday, April 3rd starting at 7:30 pm. What are they going to be? We don’t know yet. Script submissions for the show are still open until 11:59 pm tonight.
Forge Theatre Co.
One of many shows that had its run cut short, Forge Theatre Co.’s locally-written comedy Not Today has posted a multi-camera video of the entire show from beginning to end complete with ‘70s TV-style rolling credits at the end. This is a fun comedy. Evidently shot entirely onset at Urban Harvest, it’s a pleasant reminder of what going to a small stage show can feel like.
Tarot is a performance art that’s done on THE smallest stage. When it’s done right, Tarot is its own kind of performance art that taps cleverly and poetically into thematic apperception and the universality of the human condition. Local reader Skully Sati has a sharp sense of rhythm and poise about her readings as evidenced by her work done on her YouTube channel. She’s totally captivating. She’s also recently done her first Facebook Live show.
Cooking with PANdemNICK
Milwaukee actor/funnyguy Nick Firer has been posting regular Facebook Live cooking segments from his kitchen. There’s nothing explicitly scripted here...just one guy in his kitchen cooking stuff while talking about it. Watching a normal cooking show feels unsettling. PBS, the Food Network and other bigger outfits don’t seem to grasp how artificial it feels. A kitchen made to look domestic on a TV soundstage? It’s as disturbing as it is unnatural. Cooking With Nick is far better. It’s just one guy and a camera with a live feed from his actual kitchen, which ends up being so organic that it’s practically hypnotic.
WQVH, the Quarantine Variety Hour
Whether it’s David Kaye with a guitar, Andrea Roedel-Schroeder reading Neil Gaiman, Michael Timm reading Douglas Adams or anything else, Kaye’s Facebook group is an interesting scroll through various locals and others passing time until the Virus has strolled-on to other places. (Roedel-Schroeder has mentioned plans to do daily readings from Night Vale’s Faceless Old Woman, which would be really cool.)
This is largely a podcasting group, but I love the YouTube component and sometimes find myself hanging out with it in a corner window while I get other work done. It’s been nice to have the opportunity to catch-up on this YouTube channel that wasn’t specifically inspired by the Coronavirus. It’s a podcastLocal actors and comedy people sit around like figures in DaVinci’s Last Supper engaging in weird role-playing games (with the All-Arcadians) or reading from old Choose-Your-Own Adventure books (with Turn to Page Fun) or...my personal favorite: engaging in bookclub-style discussions about wildly inappropriate juvenile and YA fiction with Who Let Me Read This?