COVID-19 and Off-Off-Broadway Theater

The Morningside Players Participate in Theater Industry Discussion

 

In August 2020, Splash Magazine posed questions to a distinguished group of independent and off-off-Broadway artistic directors and managers representing eight NYC theaters including The Morningside Players artistic director, Susanna Frazer. Panelists addressed the overarching question, Can Indie Theater Survive a Pandemic?.

 

Live, off-off-Broadway theater with its affordable ticket prices contributes to the cultural and artistic landscape of the city of New York and serves as an economic driver for neighborhood restaurants and businesses. But the ecosystem of off-off-Broadway/indie theaters is fragile at best. “Most companies live by the skin of their teeth through the best of times,” writes Splash staff writer and playwright, Tony Sportiello, “and these are not the best of times.”

 

Theaters anticipate compliance challenges with social distancing guidelines, but noting the versatility of TMP performance space, Morningside Gardens own Susanna Frazer commented, “We have enough space that we can easily move seats far apart… and windows that can open.”

 

Some theaters have utilized Zoom as a virtual performance platform and communication tool, but Heather E. Cunningham from Retro Productions expressed what many feel about virtual presentations, “… if it isn’t live in the same space as I am, then it’s not theater.”

 

Ultimately, the consensus with caveats, was that off-off-Broadway will survive. “We are 100% confident that theater will recover in New York City,” stated Erin Cronican from The Seeing Place Theater. “It will be different, but a new normal will soon be created that will make it better than ever.”

 

On why theater as an art form is essential, Ms. Frazer commented, “We crave the shared experience and humanity – plus the fun and excitement of it.”

 

The online story also featured production images of two Morningside Players productions. For the entire story, please visit:  https://splashmags.com/index.php/2020/08/31/can-indie-theater-survive-a-pandemic/#gsc.tab=0

Artistic Director Susanna Frazer visiting the TDF Costume Collection Rental Program

Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2020

Photo by Dorothy Hong

On June 27th, 2020,

The Morningside Players

reprised, on Zoom, our highly touted production

of

HAVING OUR SAY,

THE DELANY SISTERS’ FIRST 100 YEARS

for

The New York Society for Ethical Culture,

Having Our Say was compiled by Emily Mann 

The production featured Carol Carter and Edythe Jason

and was directed by Susanna Frazer.

THE STORY: Having Our Say opens as 103-year-old Sadie Delany and 101-year-old Bessie Delany welcome us into their Mount Vernon, New York, home.

 

As they prepare a celebratory dinner in remembrance of their father’s birthday, they take us on a remarkable journey through the last hundred years of our nation’s history, recounting 

a fascinating series of events and anecdotes drawn from their rich family history and careers

as pioneering African-American professionals.

Their story is not simply African-American history or women’s history. It is our history, told through the eyes of two unforgettable women as they look not only into the past, but also ahead into the twenty-first century.

 

The daughters of a minister born in slavery and a brilliant woman

of mixed ancestry, the story of the Delany sisters begins in Reconstruction and progresses through the rise of Jim Crow, two world wars, the triumphs of black culture during the Harlem Renaissance, the civil and women’s rights movements, up to the present…

TMP Playwrights Group has continued to meet since March,

using the Zoom conference utility.

Our seven writers have produced interesting and exciting new pieces and we look forward to sharing

them with everyone in

Morningside Gardens soon.

 

THANKS to all who attended

TMP Black History Month's 3 ICONS performance in February 2020

&

TMP annual New Play Readings in September 2019 

In June 2019,

The Morningside Players took to the road with WITTENBERG

Our neighbor and supporter, 

Columbia University invited The Morningside Players to

Alfred Lerner Hall.

Partnered with Columbia's West Harlem Development Corporation In-Kind Program,

we presented a staged reading of Wittenberg by David Davalos.

The production featured Liz Colarte, Sam Krivda, Tom Miller,

 and Craig Myers and was directed by Susanna Frazer.

 

Actors, Playwrights, and Directors News of Note

Tim Kelley's play, Three On A Date, was selected by the Lakeshore Players Theater in White Bear Lake, Minnesota for its annual 10-minute play festival. The video quality and performances are excellent. This play was first presented last September by The Morningside Players in a fine reading featuring MG residents Donnah Welby, Luke Hofmeier and TC Niemann, directed by MG resident Tom Miller. Three On A Date is available online until Sept. 30. To watch, please visit: https://www.lakeshoreplayers.org/10mpf

Luke Hofmaier was nominated for best actor at the Berkshire Theater Awards for Now, Circa Then at Chester Theater Co. and played Col. Brandon in Sense and Sensibility with Hudson Warehouse.

Susanna Frazer appeared in Metropolitan Playhouse's Thunder Rock, Jan 16- Feb 9, '20. She can also be seen in the opening episode of Showtimes' City On A Hill in a scene opposite Kevin Bacon.

Mark Speyer has released his play Bathsheba, Or The State, a thoughtful examination of the impact of power on governance, set during the reign of King David of Israel. The play is available as an eBook from Amazon Kindle, Apple iBook and Barnes & Noble Nook.

John Barrow was invited to present scenes from his prize-winning play Lillian Paula Carson at the 8th Women and Girls in Georgia Conference at the University of Georgia on October 29, 2019. Richard Nixon's Neighbors, a one-act comedy, was produced by Seat of Our Pants Theater, Pelham, NY, in February, 2020.

Luke Hofmaier and Tess Frazer appeared in Metropolitan Playhouse's The Poor of New York, April 19th - May 19th 2019. Tess also appeared in MTC's The Perplexed by Richard Greenberg.

Cecelia Riddett was nominated as Best Actress by the Connecticut Critics Circle for The Revisionist by Jesse Eisenberg.

Kelly Taylor's one person play Rescuers was chosen by the 2018 Solo Theatre Festival at Signature Theater. Rescuers had a well-received staged reading with TMP in 2016!     

Marie Louise Guinier was featured in Scissoring by Christina Quintana at INTAR Theatre.

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