Quote of the Day: Quotes found on buffer.com.

Accessibility is not a feature, it’s a social trend. Antonio Santos

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect. Tim Berners-Lee

Brian Feldman doing is TXT show for MN Fringe Fest, virtually, 2020. Photo: Mary Aalgaard

Streaming shows is 100% accessible to anyone with a computer or other device and decent WiFi. 

When theaters went dark due to the outbreak of Covid-19, people had to get creative if they wanted to keep us connected to their theaters, provide performance opportunities and creative outlets for both theater makers and viewers. I am so impressed with the variety of ways theater people made this possible, and that it became accessible to all viewers. Being able to watch productions from the comfort and safety of our own homes was essential. Being able to adjust volumes, click on closed captioning, project to a larger screen, like the TV, were all critical. I miss going to live theater, sitting in the audience, experiencing the production together, and having a theater outing with friends and family, but I also found ways to do this while keeping a social distance. 

January through mid-March of 2020, I was on a roll with my theater views and reviews. I was in the Twin Cities nearly every weekend, seeing multiple shows. I also caught a few locally, as well as performances that my college sons were in. Then, Covid hit, and everything came to a screeching halt. What I was able to see in those first few months of 2020, live and in person, were wonderful. 

From the Guthrie Theater, Noura, a play by Heather Raffo inspired by Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, set in New York about an Iraqi immigrant family. I bought the script at the giftshop to study the play. And Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, which included some of my favorite Twin Cities performers and delightful local musicians. They also provided their annual A Christmas Carol, filmed on stage with four separate readers, which was a nice way to keep that tradition for the holidays. 

The Jungle Theater produced A Doll’s House, Part 2, which had been on my must-see list for 2020. It did not disappoint. I still picture a poignant scene between Nora and Torvald (played by the extraordinarily talented Christina Baldwin and Steven Epp), and the juxtaposition of time periods. The set was also an amazing piece of artwork. They are currently offering audio and streaming shows which are marvelous!

I went to The Bridges of Madison County at Artistry with a good friend. We both enjoyed that performance so much. The music is gorgeous, and the singers were incredible. 

Theater Latte’ Da produced the intense Bernarda Alba, with an amazing cast, powerful music, and fantastic set. Regina Marie Williams’ performance still haunts me. I was in the midst of planning a theater trip with my son, who graduated from Concordia College this Spring, to see La Boheme. I hope they are able to do it soon! They are offering other virtual productions right now. 

Penumbra produced The White Card in February, it’s message becoming even more important after the tragic death of George Floyd at the end of May. The play brings to light subtle prejudice and racism and what it means to have “White Privilege.” A powerful performance that offered a new perspective (for me) and a chance for enlightenment and movement towards change for our society. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Minneapolis Musical Theatre’s production of the two person musical Daddy Long Legs, which which they took across the river to perform at the Historic James J. Hill House in St. Paul. I went with two good friends, and we had such a lovely night. 

I caught a performance of Open Window Theatre’s production of The World Over in their new location just south of St. Paul, then drove up to hear my son in his jazz band concert at the UMN.

I stuck around to watch Ten Thousand Things Theater production of Thunder Knocking on the Door at the Open Book Loft, hoping to bring my son home for Spring Break, but the Gopher hockey team won, so he stayed in the city a little longer, as Covid drew a little closer. The show closed the next weekend. I really hope they bring it back because I’d go again in a heartbeat. The story and music were terrific.

I made it to press night at the Chanhassen Dinner Theaters for The Music Man. I had plans of going back in the summer and bringing my sister and my parents.

The last show I saw in the Twin Cities before the lock down was Ruddigore by The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company. Other states were already reeling from the pandemic, and we knew our time was coming. My sister Joy and I drove down to the cities, ate at a quiet Mexican restaurant, went to the show where hand sanitizer was everywhere, but no one wearing masks. We hadn’t learned, yet, how important they were. We loved the production and had no regrets about taking our chances, but that was the last time I sat in a theater. I haven’t been back in the cities except to help my son move into his college apartment in late August.

Park Square Theater in St. Paul was the first theater to offer me virtual theater experience to watch their zoom-style production of The Diary of Anne Frank. It was so powerful, made more frightening by our own experiences of isolation and lock down. People watched this production from around the world. They really stepped up to offer virtual experiences. Jeffrey Hatcher’s Riddle, Puzzle, Plot was fascinating. They did it in four segments, and I looked forward to tuning in each week to solve the mystery! They also streamed the MORLS radio shows and other productions.

I experienced MN Fringe Fest for the first time, virtually, and loved it! It truly was “Theater Christmas,” a gift during some rough months of uncertainty and isolation. I made some contacts with artists that I am grateful for, linking me to watch shows in other parts of the country.

The History Theatre ran some recorded shows and offered their Raw Stages, virtually. I really enjoyed those. It gave me a chance to see a couple shows again, and to watch ones I hadn’t seen before.

I got more acquainted with my own neighborhood and local theater during this time of health restrictions. I saw several shows locally, and a few of them streamed virtually. Central Lakes College Performing Arts Community Theater produced two fun summer shows, performed outdoors: Sh-Boom! Life Could be a Dream and The Marvelous Wonderettes. I was so grateful to attend live theater, out on the lawn, socially distanced. It was a life-saver. I had such a good time, I went twice, three times as a volunteer usher.

I’ve tuned into most invites that have come my way, locally, in the Twin Cities, and further out, like New York state. It’s been great. I feel that in some ways my world suddenly got smaller as I stayed home all the time, but got wider as I experienced performances all over the country without ever leaving my house. I hope this accessibility continues after the pandemic restrictions lift. Nothing replaces being there, but having access to quality performances, whether recorded or done live via streaming services, is a great option.

Thank you to everyone who has been creating and sharing their work through all of this. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost loved ones, suffered through this illness, or had their livelihoods interrupted by this terrible disease. Hang in there, everyone, we’ll see improvements soon. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What has helped you keep your spirits up during the pandemic?