4 Ways to Support Live Theater During COVID-19

As cities across America begin the process of reopening in the face of COVID-19, several industries will remain impacted by the disease long after restaurants and local businesses resume. Live theater is among the most precarious.

Theaters were some of the first venues to close their doors as the pandemic spread through the country earlier this year. And with a vaccine still on the way, it may be a long time before theaters are able to fully reopen.

While donating to a theater company is always appreciated, there are other ways you can support artists and still get some bang for your buck. Here are additional ways you can support and enjoy live theater while social distancing and staying safe.

1. View productions online.

Much in the same way Netflix has made a massive catalog of movies and television shows available for online viewing, there are many professionally-recorded live theater productions available to watch online—typically for just a small fee.

Companies like the National Theatre have productions available for individual viewing, often on a schedule. Or, if you’re an avid theater fan, you can get a subscription to a website like BroadwayHD, which offers hundreds of Broadway hits available to stream at any time.

2. Watch a production on Zoom.

In a testament to the resilience of theater artists in the face of great adversity, many companies have staged both classic and original works over the platform Zoom, like What Do We Need to Talk About? by Richard Nelson, which the New Yorker called “the first great original play of quarantine.”

Performers, designers and artists from all across the country have been rehearsing through Zoom, and live productions are available to watch online, through ticket purchases, like any other live theater event. It’s a great way to see groundbreaking, expectation-defying theater from the comfort of your own home.

3. Buy a play transcript or theater soundtrack.

As entertaining as it is to watch live theater, reading a play or listening to the soundtrack of a musical can often reveal nuances that you might overlook during a live performance. Purchasing a physical copy of an author’s play, or downloading an original cast recording of a musical soundtrack is a great way to both support artists’ work and add to your own library of cultural knowledge.

4. Reach out to your local theater.

Theaters with a national following are not the only ones to consider supporting. Regional and community theaters have been hit as hard as any other. Many of them lack the resources to offer professionally-recorded productions or Zoom performances. Some are facing the possibility of closing their doors permanently.

Despite these challenges, they are trying to stay afloat. If you’re familiar with your local or community theater, reach out to see what kind of programming they offer, and find out how you can help. From virtual theater camps to online book clubs, many local theaters are finding creative solutions to produce art to stay in business.

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