It's been a pretty exciting time on my Instagram feed in the past couple weeks as Broadway shows have been rolling out their re-opening dates for a post-pandemic New York City. Most of them are looking at opening in the fall or winter 2021, and I've seen a lot of people on social media buying tickets to their favorites. This is the moment I've been anticipating: the moment when we start to figure out what the world will look like after over a year in relative isolation.
But for those of us who can't necessarily afford to see all these new shows, what's in it for us?
On my podcast, "Euripides, Eumenides," the subject of streaming rights to live performance has frequently come up in conversation. Before the pandemic, rights to record video of a live performance such as theatre were strictly prohibited. There were only granted under either very special circumstances, or if additional fees were paid. In my understanding, as far as the theatre is concerned, this was to ensure that the only way to see a performance would be to pay for it. While this wouldn't affect smaller markets as much, this definitely would affect larger markets such as Broadway. But also, Broadway shows usually have something bigger in store for audiences. For example, while it would be incredible, it's probably not likely that I'll be able to convince someone like Hugh Jackman to appear in a musical in Sheridan, Wyoming. So, by limiting performances to be solely for a live audience, buzz can generate, and more tickets can be sold.
However, maybe we don't live in that world anymore. I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that we've gotten accustomed to preferring our live events to be streamed to our living rooms or mobile devices. But, it could be another method of allowing access to people who might not otherwise be able to attend EVERYTHING.
One of my recent guests on the podcast teaches theatre at a high school in Wyoming. During the pandemic, he found out rather quickly that while Broadway and most regional theaters were shut down, playwrights and publishing houses were almost desperate to have any of their productions staged. So they quite willingly allowed streaming rights to be available.
Now, it's a pretty common thing to see an option for streaming rights when requesting rights to perform a play. And, I hope that trend doesn't go away. This same theatre teacher I mentioned earlier stated that streaming rights would make professional theatre productions available to his students who simply do not have the means to travel far out of town, much less afford to see them live.
Another recent guest - who is a major producer in London - opined that while streaming performance should not be a replacement for live theatre, it definitely should be a component of it going forward. There are a lot of students who formally studied theatre during the pandemic, and saw it provide them opportunities to connect with audiences on a much grander scale than just within their individual communities. They now have the opportunity to change the industry for the better.
Of the many episodes of my podcast I have done, only one of them has been in person thus far. All the rest have been via Zoom. But this has allowed me to have guests from virtually anywhere, and thus to reach an audience in several different countries. Frankly, I just don't see much of an argument for this part of show business to "go back to normal." I've been saying it here and elsewhere: I'm not sure if that "normal" exists anymore. But what does exist in its place is an opportunity to evolve, and that is honestly quite exciting.
Please feel free to listen to my podcast "Euripides, Eumenides" on any major podcast provider. I've also got links to many of them on the Trident Theatre website: tridenttheatre.com/euripides-eumenides/.
I'll see you at intermission!