5 Ways to Support (and Enjoy) Local Theater Right Now

A murder mystery has been written for video chat and the state’s biggest theater festival has gone online
"Marie and Rosetta," starring Jamaica Bennett and Rajane Katurah Brown, was the last main stage production at Park Square Theatre before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“Marie and Rosetta,” starring Jamaica Bennett and Rajane Katurah Brown, was the last main stage production at Park Square Theatre before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Courtesy Park Square Theatre

According to a survey Park Square Theatre sent to its followers in mid-June, 41.58% of the 1,300 people who responded would not feel comfortable returning to indoor, live theater “until there is a vaccine and easy, widespread testing.” As for how likely people were to try potential online programming options (whether live theater resumed or not): About 38% said they were less than likely to not likely at all, about 27% were neutral, and about 33% were somewhat likely to very likely.

If you’re on the fence about online theater, give it a shot. A COVID-19 vaccine still doesn’t have an ETA (although people are working around the clock on it), and artists everywhere are still hurting. We know it’s not the same as going out for a night on stage—no one’s lying to themselves. But don’t let the good things we can still take away from the art disappear.

More and more theaters are getting the digital wheel cranking, but here are five events and galas you should tune into.

Riddle Puzzle Plot (July 24-August 14)

When a group of theater friends can’t hold their annual scavenger hunt because of a pandemic (not like that would ever happen, right?) they take their game online. But then someone seems to take the game a little too seriously… and now we have a murder on our hands. It’s up to the actors and the audience to figure out whodunnit before someone else pushes up daisies. 

Park Square Theatre’s four-part series was written specifically for video chat by Jeffrey Hatcher, whose play Holmes and Watson would have been playing at Park Square this summer. The cast list includes Aimee K. Bryant, Sun Mee Chomet, and Rodolfo Nieto. Audiences can either watch on an episodic schedule with a live introduction and post-show conversation, or they can stream it anytime (the shows themselves are pre-recorded), all for only $30. This is the latest virtual event Park Square has done (with past ones including a Zoom-based Diary of Anne Frank), so don’t miss out on the theater’s ever-evolving season.

Virtual Fringe (July 30-August 9)

It’s Fringe without the frantic driving between venues but with the same zealous energy for storytelling. Every evening during Virtual Fringe, you can watch one to three live shows for free, but if you purchase a Fringe Button ($5) and log in to the Fringe website, you can access the whole list of live and pre-recorded show options (some artists may ask for an additional ticket purchase). Check out the nightly Fringe schedule starting July 16.

The Guthrie Theater Virtual Benefit (August 1)

Although the Guthrie has offered up its exterior walls for a community art piece and showings of A Breath for George, its virtual benefit will be the first digital event it has hosted during the pandemic outside of its remote classes. 

The free event will be emceed by Sally Wingert and feature performances or appearances from local and national theater artists that have ties to the Guthrie, including Santino Fontana (Frozen), Regina Marie Williams and Meghan Kreidler (Bernarda Alba at Theater Latte Da), Don Cheadle (The Avengers), Mark Rylance, Emily Swallow (The Mandalorian), and Rainn Wilson (The Office). And, because it is a gala, expect some auction packages that are more than tempting.

Daleko Home Invasion (starting August 1)

I must confess, I hadn’t heard of the New Prague ensemble DalekoArts, but the concept of its Daleko Home Invasion theater subscription box made the best possible first impression. For $60 annually (or $5 per month), you can receive a quarterly theater “box” that includes anything from produced and live readings of plays, reality show games, a cabaret, Daleko’s trivia date night, and more. If its subscription box is half as fun as the video introducing it, we’re in for a treat. 

From Mu, With Love: A Virtual Cabaret (August 22)

Theater Mu has already been a leader in pivoting to the virtual world, and now it’s gearing up to announce its 2020-2021 season. Be the first to know what’s in store at its annual gala and cabaret, From Mu, With Love, hosted by artistic director Lily Tung Crystal and resident playwright Saymoukda Vongsay. The only hint the team has given us is that the season includes three main stage productions, live virtual events, and play readings and classes. 

If you want some Theater Mu in your life sooner, check out its Facebook Live event Re:Play July 17. Black and Asian playwrights including Katie Ka Vang, Ifrah Mansour, Harry Waters Jr., and Xiaolu Wang have paired up to write three short plays in response to George Floyd’s death and current events; they’ll be performed (for free) during the company’s frequent Mu-Tini Hour.