Old GLOBE participates in Play at Home

Old GLOBE participates in Play at Home

Late last month, a small group of regional and not-for-profit theatres, all committed to finding ways to keep people connected to live theatre, came together by phone and email and Zoom to create the Play At Home project, a series of short plays commissioned specifically for this moment of unprecedented isolation to inspire joy and connection for all – especially for families to read at home.

The Old Globe is proud to join this cohort, which includes Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, The Public Theater, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, with others across the country joining in. Play At Home allows theatres to fill two major goals: to steer some financial support to struggling artists, and to inspire new work at a challenging time.

The Old Globe reached out to its extensive cadre of artists, and these playwrights have been commissioned to create short plays for this program: Ngozi Anyanwu (playwright of “The Homecoming Queen”, actor in Off Broadway’s “Good Grief” and “War”); Barry Edelstein (The Old Globe’s Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director; director and author); Nathan Englander (Globe’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” “The Twenty-Seventh Man”); Selina Fillinger (Globe’s “Faceless;” “The Armor Plays: Cinched/Strapped,” “Something Clean”); Jose Cruz González (Globe-commissioned “Under a Baseball Sky,” “Globe’s American Mariachi;” “Sunsets & Margaritas” at Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company); Gordon Greenberg (Globe’s “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” “Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show,” and “Working;” West End revival of “Guys and Dolls”) and Steve Rosen (Globe’s “Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show;” “The Other Josh Cohen,” “Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors”); Tony Meneses (Powers New Voices Festival’s “El Borracho;” “Guadalupe in the Guest Room”); Heather Raffo (Globe’s “Noura;” “9 Parts of Desire,” “Fallujah”); Mike Sears (Globe workshop of “When It Comes;” “How High the Moon” at La Jolla Playhouse); Gill Sotu (Globe-commissioned playwright and Teaching Artist for Reflecting Shakespeare); Whitney White (original concert-play “Lover I’ll Bring You Back to Life,” “Macbeth in Stride”); and Anna Ziegler (Globe’s “The Wanderers” and “The Last Match;” “Actually,” “Photograph 51”).

“I’m so grateful to my colleagues running the great theatres who kicked off this wonderful initiative, and I’m very proud to join them,” said Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein. “Theatre artists nationwide are inspiring all of us with their amazing capacity to adapt to trying circumstances, and to create art even in the face of uncertainty and upheaval. The Globe is thrilled to support 13 of our talented writers and to commission them to join in the fun. Play at Home is an idea that’s brilliant in its simplicity: you go to the website, download a play, and read it aloud. You make theatre in your own home, on your own terms. The range of writers and writing is breathtaking, and I promise that you’ll find invention, diversion, and most of all a celebratory sense of release in these works.”

As plays flood in, scripts are posted and will be available for free, immediate downloading at www.playathome.org.

These plays are joyful, meant to exist in your imagination beyond the usual limits of what might be possible onstage. They are family-friendly world premieres that can exist in their fullness in your living room. No rules of engagement necessary – you decide how and when to read the plays. At home, by yourself, in your pajamas. In the living room with your family or roommates or pets. While cooking dinner or waiting for delivery from local businesses. And, if you want, share what you’re up to – images, videos and soundbites – on social media by tagging #PlayAtHome!

Freelance artists are among those hit hardest by COVID-19 closures, and even a $500 commission helps support them in doing what they do best – creating! Part of the irreplaceable magic of live theatre lives in the unmediated space between artists and the audience’s imagination, making worlds together. Play At Home is an invitation to unplug the oversaturated tech and plug into your creativity.

In this time of social isolation, the Globe’s staff and artists are busy rolling out myriad online free programs of creative community collaboration. Existing arts engagement programs developed previously with Community Partner venues include Community Voices, a weekly playwriting workshop that began March 26; and Behind the Curtain, a weekly how-to-make-theatre workshop that began April 1, both available on The Old Globe Arts Engagement’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TOGArtsEngagement).

The Old Globe’s Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein introduced a special edition of Thinking Shakespeare Live: Sonnets! (available for viewing: https://www.theoldglobe.org/), with the next installment scheduled for Tuesday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m. on The Old Globe’s Facebook page. Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, each only 14 lines long, contain some of his most beautiful and moving poetry. Edelstein delves into the masterpiece of the form, exploring its language, how it works, and how it relates to Shakespeare’s work for the stage.

Audiences are also exploring the Bard in On Book: The Old Globe’s Shakespeare Reading Group. Beginning with “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Henry V,” they read and discuss the work with directors, actors and other artists who have tackled these great masterworks for the Globe’s stages. Meetings will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays on at The Old Globe’s Shakespeare Reading Group.

Each, followers also see new Act Breaks, a special series of videos from Old Globe artists checking in _ sharing messages of hope, a song, or just to say hello. The first two, from the cast of the Globe’s “Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show” and “Bright Star’s” Edie Brickell, can be viewed on the Globe’s website and on the theatre’s YouTube channel: The Globe’s YouTube channel.

Status update: All of The Globe’s 2019-2020 season productions and events have been postponed until further notice, and new dates are not expected to be confirmed before summer. All community-based programming run by the Globe’s Department of Arts Engagement in partnership with neighborhood not-for-profit and other organizations has been temporarily suspended, or, where possible, will be conducted online.

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