In the coming months, you may find yourself pulling on your finest sweatpants, sipping on your sweetest boxed wine and sliding on your fluffiest slippers for a trip to the theater.
For its 2020-21 season, Open Stage Theatre of Harrisburg presents a lineup of completely free, virtual shows.
“We are in unprecedented times; from the smallest community theater to the big houses on Broadway–all theaters are struggling,” said producing artistic director Stuart Landon in a statement. “But we feel strongly that this is the right direction for us to go in. We have so much work to do to engage the parts of our community that have never been to live theatre.”
From October to June, Open Stage will perform a different play each month live-streamed on YouTube.
Only five staff will comprise the casts, production teams and crews for the entire season—Benny Benamati, Brianna Dow, Chris Gibson, Rachel Landon and Stuart Landon.
“All of us have worn many hats in our careers, both here and in theatres across the country,” Chris Gibson, production manager, said in a statement. “We are going to be using that collective experience while pulling a lot of tricks out of our sleeves to make these entertaining and meaningful shows.”
The show schedule will be as follows:
- October 9-26, 2020: “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus”—adapted from the novel by Mary Shelley
- November 6-22, 2020: “Poirot Investigates!”—adapted from the works of Agatha Christie
- December 4-20, 2020: “A Christmas Carol”—the 21st annual production adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens
- January 8-24, 2021: “Kafka’s Shorts”—adapted from the works of Franz Kafka by David Lee
- February 5 – 21, 2021: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”— adapted from the short story by Washington Irving
- March 5 – 21, 2021: “Everyman”—adapted from various sources by Patrick Hughes and Chris Gibson
- April 2 – 18, 2021: “The Time Machine”—adapted from the novel by H. G. Wells
- April 30 – May 16, 2021: “Treasure Island”—adapted from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson
- May 28 – June 13, 2021: “Poirot Returns!”—adapted from the works of Agatha Christie
Shows will include unique theatrical devices, including puppetry, found-object design, trunk show performance, projection and green screen techniques, said Open Stage.
Landon said through the free virtual format, he hopes financial barriers that previously kept people away from theater will be broken down.
Low-cost online theater classes for students will be offered, starting in September. They will have virtual performances throughout the year, Landon said.
Open Stage is still undecided on whether they will re-open their newly renovated building to the public next year or not, Landon said. He added they are being cautious, but optimistic.
Open Stage said the theater’s budget has been slashed dramatically, leaving them to rely on ticket sales, classes and fundraising to make up $200,000.
A pay-what-you-will ticketing system will allow the community to donate, Open Stage said. People can even choose to be part of the theater’s “Inner Circle,” giving them access to special events, in addition to all performances.
“Theatre has survived plagues, wars, government coups and stock market crashes,” Landon said in a statement. “Even without audiences, it will survive Covid-19.”