Like nearly everything else fun, interesting, nourishing and intellectually arousing across the United States, the live staged art of theater held in front of an audience ceased on or around March 13 due to the onset of COVID-19, Philadelphia included. I can’t tell you how many actors or directors have recalled March 13th as D-Day. “I was on stage, after the first performance of Cabaret at the Bristol Riverside Theatre…” – things like that, as if everything got zapped away.
“Philadelphia’s theater scene went into shock, then mourning,” said Theatre Philadelphia’s still new (“only since August!”) Executive Director LaNeshe Miller-White about the feelings that she and her fellow actors, directors and company holders had regarding the stop of their official 2019 – 2020 theatre seasons.
Miller-White is also an actor a large, and the co-founder of West Philly’s Theatre in the X. Theatre in the X is a company whose view stands for making the stage more accessible for Black theater-makers and Black audiences. A vision shared by the inclusion and diversity measures taken on by the Theatre Philadelphia hub, two years ago under then-executive director Leigh Goldenberg. “That outreach, ha ques for inclusion is a big part of why, when Leigh left, I wanted to step up,” noted Miller-White.
That said, the 2019-2020 season had a lot of life to it before the pandemic, and virtually, as the pandemic raged and rages on still. “Philadelphia theater-makers turned out to be a pretty resilient bunch,” she said of area companies and individual actors going into virtual pivot mode.
So Theatre Philadelphia, the organizing and info warehousing web portal for area theater-makers recognizes such drive and innovation by throwing its own fall gathering: Monday, November 16, 7 pm’s “Theatre Philadelphia: A Celebration.” The virtual event is co-hosted by Jenna Kuerzi and Newton Buchanan, and curated by LaNeshe and TP Marketing Director, Katherine Clark.
Here, audiences and fellows can check into what local theater art makers have been up to since C-19, as well as show off, and discuss, some of what they staged before March 13. “And I suspect a lot of many companies’ future plans will be part of Theatre Philadelphia “A Celebration.”
“It won’t all be looking back,” said Miller-White.
Audiences will also be able to participate in various after-party celebrations in various Zoom Rooms, an occasion for which Miller-White states she’ll bring her own bottle of champagne.
Check HERE for various ticket and interactive participation options.