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The Short Version: The New Repertory Theatre has kept the spotlights on during the coronavirus pandemic by showcasing a virtual play series for theater lovers in Boston and beyond. The production company has continued to feature talented artists and bring culturally enriching experiences to the community through an innovative socially distant format. Couples can get tickets to one of New Rep’s virtual plays to enjoy an engaging and entertaining date night at home.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic impact on arts communities across the U.S. In early 2020, stay-at-home orders effectively lowered the curtain on live shows throughout the country, and some of those curtains have yet to rise again.
The New Repertory Theatre in Watertown has had to get creative and think outside the black box theater when putting together a show calendar for 2020 and 2021. New Rep has postponed its indoor performances for now, but the company is offering a new virtual play series to entertain folks at home.
Since 1984, New Rep has run many thought-provoking and laughter-inducing shows in the Boston arts scene, and it has inspired generations of arts enthusiasts to come together. In 2020, its loyal fans have been unable to go to the theater, so New Rep has taken the theater to them.
New Rep has reached an online audience with its virtual play series and other innovative programming. Its calendar is full of date opportunities for couples looking for entertainment at home.
By getting tickets to a virtual live performance, couples can bring all the excitement of a stage play to their living room and shake up their Netflix-and-chill routines.
Plus, for those itching to get out of the house, New Rep has partnered with local historians and scholars to make history come alive in an outdoor walking tour with performances taking place on sidewalks outside historical sites.
“We’ve learned so much along the way in regards to how to adapt and continue to present quality work to our community,” said the New Rep team. “We’re so fortunate to work with such creative people that we’ve been able to make outdoor and virtual theater a success!”
The whole premise of theater is to bring people together for a shared experience, so social distancing guidelines present unique challenges to theater troupes in rehearsals and performances for the upcoming year. Fortunately, New Rep has found ways to keep the public safe while putting on a show.
New Rep’s Showstopper Virtual Play Series has offered a one-of-a-kind experience by using technology to deliver live performances to avid theater goers. Couples can create theater dates at home by making some popcorn, gathering their favorite candies, and settling back on the couch for a special performance courtesy of New Rep’s company.
The series includes two shows for just $30. Attendees can tune in through any desktop, laptop, or mobile device and watch the drama unfold.
The first performance featured in the series is “A Very Herrera Holiday” by Alexis Scheer. The show is about a lifestyle blogger who is on Zoom to showcase her favorite seasonal drinks and crafts. However, as the monologue goes on, she lets slip details from her love life that may pique people’s interest.
“‘A Very Herrera Holiday’ is a darkly comedic look at an influencer who may be sharing more than festive fun,” New Rep told us. “The Showstopper Virtual Play Series is live theatre at its pandemic best.”
The second show on New Rep’s virtual play calendar is “[keyp-ing]” by Miranda Austen ADEkoje. The story follows a freelance commercial producer waiting for her film crew to return from a COVID-19 rapid testing site in the suburbs. She conducts an Instagram Live to vent her frustrations, and comments pour in with accusations of white privilege and racism.
The heavy subject matter tackled by “[keyp-ing]” is painfully relevant to current events, and it challenges audiences to think about the racial tensions underlying the pandemic and creates a dialogue about the legacy of white supremacy in the U.S.
“A Very Herrera Holiday” and “[keyp-ing]” will run at various times between November 21 and December 13, 2020. You can check the New Rep calendar to find upcoming shows and plan for your next date night.
Like many theater companies, New Rep has recently faced a lot of uncertainty about when its shows can safely go on. However, its newly revised schedule of indoor performances can give theater lovers hope for 2021 and 2022.
In the meantime, New Rep is encouraging its fans to get tickets for virtual shows, walking tours, and outdoor performances — or even buy a gift certificate — to help the theater weather the pandemic.
New Rep has postponed its 2020 season in concurrence with the Massachusetts safety guidelines, and that has taken a toll on its bottom line. The theater’s traditional revenue stream has essentially dried up and led to a financial loss of about $960,000 — or 56% of New Rep’s annual operating costs.
“We will need our community’s help now more than ever to make it through this,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Artistic Director of New Repertory Theatre.
New Rep has set up a Covid relief fund that takes donations to support the theater during these difficult times. Additionally, the New Traditions Fund is a charitable effort to promote diversity in the arts by funding initiatives on behalf of BIPOC artists.
Many talented artists, producers, and crew members are struggling during the pandemic, and New Rep is working hard to build a support system that can sustain them until the pandemic is over.
For over 35 years, New Rep has established itself as a cornerstone in the local arts world, and it continues connecting and inspiring people throughout the Watertown community.
“One of the best things has been seeing how grateful and excited people have been to share live theater with us again, even if it looks and feels different,” the team said. “At the end of the day, the best part of theater-making is creating a shared experience, and either encouraging folks to think more deeply or just providing an entertaining afternoon.”
Over the last few months, New Rep has adapted to the new normal by changing the way it puts on a performance and giving audiences something new to applaud. The theater’s calendar features virtual shows, outdoor performances, and other interactive programming that support the arts.
New Rep can give couples a lot to talk about as they explore the local theater scene from the comfort and safety of home. Whether they’re attending a walking tour or a livestreaming play, couples can enhance their socially distanced date nights thanks to the New Rep’s hard work and creativity.
“To feel the gratitude and joy coming from our audiences has made all of our additional efforts 110% worth it,” the New Rep team told us. “Knowing that we’re not alone, that our people are still here with us and supporting us, truly means everything.”