In the past weeks following Boston’s stay-at-home orders, our local theatre community has been Zoom-ing (literally) around the question: how can we connect if we can’t gather at the theater?
We are experiencing, now more than ever before, a need for meaningful connection with other people online. Social media, once just a platform used to get out the word about shows, and still a relatively recent cultural development, is now one of the only ways we can get our dose of entertainment and ideas from Boston theatre’s greatest. But instead of this new norm being discouraging or limiting, local artists and arts administrators are blessing us with much-needed levity and heart.
“As soon as we announced we were closing, I started thinking of all the ways we could engage on social media”
If you follow The Huntington Theatre Company on Instagram, you’ve seen their parody posters of past show titles dubbed anew with a coronavirus twist. The idea came from Kobi Kassal, who manages the company’s social media presence.
“As soon as we announced we were closing, I started thinking of all the ways we could engage on social media,” said Kassal. “We wanted to play a riff off of what’s happening in the world in a lighthearted way.” He quickly turned to the company’s iconic posters and, in collaboration with the team’s graphic designer and pun-loving staff, gave us “The Purell-ists.” We can only hope that Billy Porter will also direct this new play.
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The team is also getting us excited about their upcoming season through nuggets of great content with their new initiative Huntington@Home, which you can follow on Facebook and Instagram. So far, they’ve given us a sneak peek of the new musical Songbird, with a song from composer Lauren Pritchard. We’re stoked to hear that their 2020-2021 season now includes the postponed production of Kirsten Greenidge’s Our Daughters Like Pillars!
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And for fans of their always nop-notch Stephen Sondheim musicals, you can hear a folky rendition of “Send In the Clowns” featuring former cast member Lauren Molina. If you loved Sunday In The Park With George, they even posted a Seurat-inspired coloring page!
“We’re working as hard as we can to keep the community involved with what we do”
Kassal and the team are excited to hear more about what audiences want to see. “We’re working as hard as we can to keep the community involved with what we do, and to do that; we’re trying to engage with our patrons in different ways.”
This shift away from in-person theatre may feel disorienting, but we’re in good hands. The local community of artists and arts administrators is full of innovators who are ready and excited to adapt. Not only are they showing us that Boston’s theatre community is resilient, but also that there are greater possibilities to expand the field with new opportunities for connection.
Elena Morris (she/her/hers) is ArtsBoston’s Patron Services Manager. She is a dramaturg and arts administrator passionate about forward-thinking in the arts. Elena holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University, focusing her studies on dramatic literature and movement.