Theater artists to envision the future in Saturday chats online from Olney

In seven weekly discussions, playwrights, directors, actors, and stage managers look past the pandemic.

In a time when connection is more important than ever, Olney Theatre Center is revamping its Streaming Saturdays, a live online discussion series featuring the perspectives of a wide range of theater makers locally and across the country. On Saturdays at 5:00 pm on the OTC Facebook and YouTube pages, Streaming Saturdays: Artists Envision the Future will feature Washington Post Chief Theater Critic Peter Marks hosting a livestreamed discussion with artists in different parts of the industry. In addition, Olney Artistic Director Jason Loewith will talk with artists affiliated with Olney productions that are slated for the 2020–2021 season.

Olney Theatre Center performers. Photo courtesy of Olney Theatre Center.

“In the pandemic’s early days, we sponsored a discussion when we invited Peter Marks to talk with local artistic directors about what the new environment would mean for theater,” says Loewith. “One of the big takeaways from that discussion was that there were a lot more perspectives we need to hear. Not just artistic directors, but actors, stage managers, playwrights, and directors. We’re grateful Peter graciously committed to working with us again.”

The entire schedule for Streaming Saturdays: Artists Envision the Future follows. You can view updates on the Olney website.

Playwrights – Saturday, May 9 at 5:00 pm (Replay is available on Facebook.)
Moderated by Peter Marks with Lauren Gunderson (I and You), Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop—winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), and Dani Stoller (Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes)

One prominent article advised theaters emerging from the crisis to think smaller—one-person plays and two-handers. But Michael Kaiser of the DeVos Institute takes the opposite tack, essentially arguing that theaters need to “go big or go home.” What’s a playwright to do? How are working playwrights thinking about their viability in the new environment? And what amazing stories lie ahead for us in a post-pandemic world?

Dance Nation – Saturday, May 16 at 5:00 pm
With Claire Barron, playwright, and Paige Hernandez, director

Jason Loewith speaks with Paige Hernandez, the director/choreographer of this season’s Helen Hayes–nominated The Royale. Paige is set to return to direct Claire Barron’s incendiary dream play Dance Nation for the 2020–2021 season.

Actors & Stage Managers – Saturday, May 23 at 5:00 pm
Moderated by Peter Marks with Dylan Arredondo (former National Player and the upcoming Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), Evan Casey, actor (The Amateurs), Tracy Lynn Olivera, actor (Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical), Jade Jones, (Ford’s Theater’s Into the Woods), and Karen Currie, stage manager

Making a living in the theater has never been easy, but COVID-19 has thrown an unprecedented challenge at working actors and stage managers. What are freelance DMV artists expecting and hoping for when theater returns? How will they manage the tension between practicing their craft and staying safe?

Meredith Willson’s The Music Man – Saturday, May 30 at 5:00 pm
Moderated by Jason Loewith with Michael Baron, director, Joey Caverly, actor, Sandra Mae Frank, actor, Alexandria Wailes, director, Alexandria Wailes, director, and Chris Youstra, music director.

Next season, deaf and hearing artists will collaborate on an unprecedented production of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man that puts the importance of theater’s role in making community centerstage. Though opening night is more than a year away, much work has already been done. Learn about it in this pre-production conversation.

Directors – Saturday, June 6 at 5:00 pm
Moderated by Peter Marks with Stephen Brackett (Be More Chill) and others TBA

How will the staging of productions change in an era of social distancing? Can an effective family drama or rousing musical observe social distancing between actors? How are directors going to approach plays with a whole new set of considerations for performers and audiences?

Futurecasting: Todd London in conversation with Peter Marks – Saturday, June 13 at 5:00 pm
Peter Marks talks with Todd London, who is former artistic director of New Dramatists, head of the MFA Playwriting program at the School of Drama at the New School, and director of theater relations for the Dramatists Guild of America.

A.D. 16 – Saturday, June 20 at 5:00 pm
Moderated by Jason Loewith with Cinco Paul (composer, lyricist) and Bekah Brunstetter (bookwriter)

Jason Loewith checks in with the powerhouse team behind OTC’s world premiere musical A.D. 16. From Cinco Paul (Despicable Me) and Bekah Brunstetter (This Is Us) comes the delightfully witty, sublimely inspiring story of teenaged Mary Magdalene, who falls in love with the carpenter’s son next door…who happens to be a kid named Jesus.

Olney Theatre Center produces, presents, and tours extraordinary performances for a diversity of audiences, and educates and inspires the next generation of theater makers. They strive every day to unleash the creative potential of artists and audiences, and in so doing, become a nationally prominent destination for the most impactful theater performance and education.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made at the Olney Theatre Center website.


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