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The Show Must Go On… Line! NYC Theaters at the Time of Coronavirus

Many Broadway and off-Broadway companies have opened their archives and made them available online to keep performances alive.

It’s the second month of lockdown here in New York. The State of New York, starting May 15, will reopen low risk activities but only in the upstate regions. NYC will remain locked down, with only essential activities working and everything related to show business suspended. Cinemas, theaters, pubs, arenas, all gathering locations for cultural/entertainment purposes are shut down because of the safety measures taken for the pandemic, rightly I would say. After all, if you want to avoid being infected by a highly infectious disease for which there is no cure or vaccine, the only thing to do is to maintain distance from each other. But because it is impossible to predict dates and timing, and past experiences show that time will be needed, it is likely that this suspension will last for a while.

For two months now, and through a date that is repeatedly updated, we are not allowed to buy tickets for shows; on the contrary, the Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway industry, guarantees to refund all those holding tickets for performances through June 7, 2020.

However, the idea of totally cutting out of our lives such an important aspect of what is considered our cultural life seems unbearable. Therefore, remedial actions have been taken and rather than leaving people without the necessity and the pleasure of cultural entertainment, many productions and acting companies have opened their archives and made them available online to guarantee some continuity to an industry that is destined to be the last one getting back to work again when the emergency will be over.

Since all TV streaming channels have been offering series and feature films for a while now as an alternative to movie theaters, the web has become an important container of theatrical performances (plays, ballets, opera), allowing us the possibility of simulating going out to theaters. and “Time Out” magazine (that because of the pandemic has temporally become “Time In”) are perfect guides to know which shows you can find online, both free and with subscription. and continue to publish shows online but, for this extraordinary period we are living in, they offer more titles, free trials and more shows for free. And never as in this period, has the overseas theater been so close. The Shakespeare’s Globe and the National Theatre of London have made their shows available on their YouTube channels.

Obviously, donations and contributions are requested, because despite the fact that many countries consider culture an asset and a necessity– and therefore contribute with government support– it is true that it represents a huge machine made of multiple mechanisms that need to be oiled and powered.

Show business professionals are represented by exorbitant numbers; from the creative figures (authors, screen writers, set designers, make up artists, costume designers, directors, actors) to the more technical (editors, sound designers, props men, electricians); it is a whole industry on its knees at this moment and with a dark outlook ahead, the one that will be the last to raise its head again.

We, the audience, are still guaranteed some enjoyment, a limited one of course, but still effective. We can’t watch all the shows that were running at the time of the shutdown, but we can find plays, musicals, opera and ballets online. Let’s adapt to the difficult time and reflect that there are numbers of writers out there, inspired by the extraordinary event, that are already creating movies, series and shows that will tell us about this time in history. New productions will be guaranteed.

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