As far as live entertainment goes, there aren’t too many things competing for your attention these days. But good art takes time, and as the quarantine drags on and on, artists and organizations are starting to rise to the challenge.
Here are six hand-picked, worth-your-time, probably-uplifting things to do or see this week.
(And why is so much #quarantainment held on Wednesdays?)
May 13: New Works Series, featuring Seattle people (New York Theatre Barn)
Once upon a time, I had the joy of hearing an early reading of Here and Their by Jasmine Joshua, Alexei Cifrese, and Heather Ragusa. It’s one of three new musicals selected for development with The 5th Avenue Theatre’s First Draft program, and follows a non-binary person’s discovery of self and family — specifically, an aunt they didn’t know existed, who’s an ’80s lesbian punk rock icon. The show had further development in New York, and now will publicly debut two songs in Theatre Barn’s New Works Series. Songs from another First Draft commission (Half the Sky, by Isabella Dawis and Tidtaya Sinutoke) round out the bill, with formerly-of-Seattle favorite Diana Huey performing.
May 13: Lydia and the Troll Concert (Seattle Rep)
Once upon a time, I also had the joy of hearing an early reading of bits of Lydia and the Troll, a new musical by Justin Huertas in development with Seattle Rep. Tonight was supposed to be opening tonight on the theatre’s mainstage, but then … things happened. As a tide-over, Huertas will share 45 minutes of songs and stories from the new work.
May 14: Shakin’ Shit Up with Sharon Nyree Williams
I don’t have too many details on the format of this series premiere, a show about “sharing creative stories and exploring the messages within them.” But Williams — who’s the Executive Director of the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas and an artist/storyteller in her own right — has a knack for bringing together phenomenal talents under one roof. The first show’s guests are Savannah Parker and Nina Yarbrough.
May 14-17: Nexus
Danielle Mohlman’s play — about two strangers falling in and out of love with each other — has run since mid-April, performed by a different real-life couple of actors every show, live from their home via Zoom. By popular demand, it’s back for four more shows, with four more couples.
Performs weekday evenings and weekend afternoons. Advance registration required (with donation-based admission), here.
May 16-17: Ripcord reading (Burien Actors Theatre)
With its season cut short, Burien Actors Theatre is headed online instead, with a series of plays via live reading on Zoom. This weekend is Ripcord, a comedy by David Lindsay-Abaire, about two warring seniors in a retirement home, locked in a bet in which the loser has to move out. It sounds like a hoot.
Performs Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Advance registration required; link to Zoom event provided by donation. Series info here.
May 17: New Plays / No Pants Required (Rain City Projects)
Do you miss humans? Do you miss new works? Do you miss the ability to talk in real-time with humans about new works? This live, informal reading might be just your ticket, with 20- to 30-minute snippets from two works-in-development by local playwrights, performed by local actors, and discussed live via chat and Zoom. It’s a close-up, human-connected, living room salon-style feel, for a social distancing age.
Capacity is limited, so advance registration by email is required. Email raincityprojectsinfo at gmail.com to sign up.
If any artists are bringing more quarantine joy than Tacoma-based musician Stephanie Anne Johnson — whose performances include weekly concerts and daily one-song shows — I haven’t found them yet. It’s more fun to watch live, even from afar, but you can also just go back and watch all of the videos. I talk more about them here; and you can tune in live (or watch past performances) here.
A new local streaming platform, called Northwest Arts Streaming Hub (NASH), is in beta mode. (The performances I tried to access all say “coming soon,” but nose around and check it out in the meantime.) It’s led by an intrepid group of artists and administrators, and likely to grow quickly. Find it here.
Plus: Watch/Hear People Talk (Or Not Talk)
Lots of virtual talk shows have sprung up. A few suggestions:
May 13, 6:30-7:30: Happy hour with Village Theatre. Associate Artistic Director Brandon Ivie talks with a different theatre artist every week. (Held every Wednesday. Shown through Facebook Live on the theatre’s page.)
May 13, 8-9:30: The Living Room with Randy Ford, J Mase III, and Dani Tirrell. Three queer Black artists have a candid conversation on a different topic each week. (Held on various platforms; info here.)
May 13: a Very Special Show: the arts podcast with Kevin McManus. I don’t listen to podcasts much, but I’m willing to let this one — featuring local creatives (actors, musicians, cultural historians, and more) — try to change my mind. This week’s guest is Sub Pop Records founder Bruce Pavitt. (Listen in on Spotify and other platforms; info here.)
May 15, 8-9 pm: TPS Tonight with Jimmy Shields and Alexandria J. Henderson. The ebullient co-hosts of last year’s Gregory Awards move to the virtual stage, in conversation with other artists. This week’s special guest is Sarah Russell. (Held every Friday in May, on Zoom; info here.)
May 16, 3 pm: Physical Distancing Intimate Conversations with Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas. Dancer/choreographer/curator Dani Tirrell talks with Black artists about their work, life, and other probing topics. Different artist each week. (Held on Instagram; info here.)
And then there’s the polar opposite: the gathering where people show up specifically to not talk. It’s The Stranger‘s perennially popular Silent Reading Party, virtual edition. Fancy watching other people read? Aching for some ambient piano tunes in your life? Need a fixed time slot to make progress on your Summer Book Bingo card? This is the party for you. (Held every Wednesday on Zoom — next one May 13, 6-8 pm. Tickets $5 and up; info here.)
NWTheatre is largely on hiatus right now, but will occasionally bring you features like this.