Who: Lee Ranaldo
What: Online film screening and introduction
Where: Holt/Smithson Foundation Vimeo and Instagram Live
When: Friday, May 22, free, 2:00 (streams for twenty-four hours)
Why: The Holt/Smithson Foundation, which continues and expands the legacies of husband-and-wife artists Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, have been livestreaming rare films by and about the couple on Friday afternoons at 2:00, leaving them up on Vimeo and IGTV for twenty-four hours. On May 22, the foundation will present Holt’s The Making of Amarillo Ramp, a documentary that goes behind the scenes of the creation of Smithson’s last earthwork, 1973’s Amarillo Ramp, consisting of rocks and dirt that was meant to emerge from an artificial lake in Amarillo but is now eroding in a dry basin. Holt shot the film in 1973, but it wasn’t edited and completed until 2013; Smithson died at the age of thirty-five in a plane crash while surveying the work, which was finished by Holt, Tony Shafrazi, and Richard Serra, while Holt passed away in 2014 at the age of seventy-five. The thirty-two-minute 16mm film will be introduced by musician, composer, visual artist, writer, producer, and Sonic Youth cofounder Lee Ranaldo, who in 1998 released the experimental album Amarillo Ramp (for Robert Smithson), which features the title track in addition to “Non-Site #3,” “Notebook,” “Here,” and a cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation,” which fits in all too well with the current pandemic; Smithson was a land artist working outside, amid large expanses of deserted areas, and Ranaldo has just released a new video for “Isolation,” with footage taken during the coronavirus crisis.
Who: Michael Berenbaum, Pamela S. Nadell
What: Livestream panel discussion
Where: National Museum of American Jewish History Facebook page
When: Thursday, May 21, free with advance registration, 6:00
Why: We recently finished watching HBO’s six-part series The Plot Against America, based on Phillip Roth’s 2004 novel, and it scared the hell out of us. The story presents an alternate history in which Charles Lindbergh beats Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 to become president of the United States, but the famous aviator turns out to be a far-right America-first anti-Semite. Just as the main character’s wife begs him to leave New Jersey and head to Canada, my wife has been urging us to find safer environs, to escape Donald Trump and move to Portugal or another country, since anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in the United States and around the world. On May 21 at 6:00, the Philadelphia-based National Museum of American Jewish History will host the timely panel discussion “The Plot Against America: Antisemitism Run Amok,” with independent consultant and Jewish Studies professor Michael Berenbaum and Women’s & Gender History professor Pamela S. Nadell. Admission is free with recommended RSVP; if you want to ask questions, you have to watch the program on Facebook and not on the NMAJH website.
Who: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Stephen M. Kaus
What: Livestream discussion with exclusive footage
Where: Manhattan Theatre Club Facebook Live
When: Thursday, May 21, free, 5:00
Why: In 2017, Manhattan Theatre Club presented the August Wilson’s Jitney at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, the first American Century Cycle play Wilson wrote but the last to reach Broadway. The production, which earned the Tony for Best Revival of a Play and featured John Douglas Thompson, André Holland, Ray Anthony Thomas, Brandon J. Dirden, Carra Patterson, Michael Potts, Harvy Blanks, Anthony Chisholm, and Keith Randolph Smith, was directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who has acted in, directed, and/or recorded the complete ten-play cycle and was friends with the playwright; he was Wilson’s personal choice to portray him in the autobiographical one-man show How I Learned What I Learned once Wilson got ill and then passed away, in 2005 at the age of sixty. On May 21 at 5:00 on MTC’s Facebook page, Santiago-Hudson will discuss his directorial choices, accompanied by clips from the Broadway run that he will review in depth; he will be joined by MTC director of artistic producing Stephen M. Kaus. Santiago-Hudson won a Tony for his performance in Wilson’s Seven Guitars, has written Lackawanna Blues and Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, and has directed such other plays as Paradise Blue and Wilson’s The Piano Lesson.
What: Livestreamed reading and talk
Where: RIBOCA2 website
When: Thursday, May 21, free with advance registration, noon
Why: In July 2017, I sat down with poet CAConrad for a private (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals session in the middle of Madison Square Park. On May 21 at noon, CAConrad will host a virtual reading and discussion that might feel like it’s one on one, since so many of us are still sheltering in place. The Zoom program is part of the 2nd Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, which was supposed to open in Latvia last week but has been moved online in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. CAConrad, who was born in Kansas, was raised in Pennsylvania, and is the author of such books as The City Real & Imagined, ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness, and While Standing in Line for Death, has been posting a poem a day on their Facebook and Instagram pages, a series they call “CORONADAZE.” For RIBOCA2, they are presenting “Endings. (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals. CACONRAD,” which will explore how we can transform this contemporary moment, contemplate the end of a world, and maintain personal creative space through it all. To prepare for the free event, you are strongly encouraged to read (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals: The Basics in 3 Parts, which can be found here.
Who: Ruth Messinger, Brad Lander, Mark Winston Griffith, Emma Rehac
What: Justice in Action discussion
Where: Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan Zoom link
When: Thursday, May 21, free (donations accepted) with advance registration, 2:00
Why: The JCC’s Justice in Action program continues May 21 at 2:00 with the livestreamed panel discussion “Educational Inequity Pt. 2,” which will examine how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting inequality in the school system, based on race, class, power, and other elements. JCC Social Justice Activist in Residence Ruth Messinger and New York City councilmember Brad Lander will be joined by School Colors podcast host Mark Winston Griffith and IntegrateNYC student director Emma Rehac. Free advance RSVP is required, although donations are accepted; registrants will receive a Zoom link thirty minutes before the session begins.
Who: Megan McGinnis, Adam Halpin, Paul Alexander Nolan, Paul Gordon, John Caird, Michael Jackowitz
What: Livestreamed reunion of cast, crew, creatives benefiting the Actors Fund
Where: Broadway Podcast Network on YouTube and Facebook Live
When: Thursday, May 21, free (donations accepted), 8:00
Why: In May 2016, I raved about director John Caird and composer and lyricist Paul Gordon’s Daddy Long Legs, saying it was “absolutely lovely” and proclaiming that “Megan McGinnis gives one of the most charming and engaging performances of the season.” Directed by John Caird at the Davenport Theatre, the show centered on an American orphan’s coming-of-age as a young woman in a male-dominated society in the early twentieth century. On May 21 at 8:00, McGinnis, who played Jerusha Abbott, Adam Halpin, who costarred as Jervis Pendleton, producer Michael Jackowitz, Caird, who also wrote the book, and Gordon will have a virtual reunion as part of Ken Davenport’s ongoing series “The Producer’s Perspective.”
In announcing the event, Davenport explained, “I discovered the secret of happiness. It’s a virtual reunion of Daddy Long Legs! In 2015, we streamed Daddy Long Legs live to the world, and it became the very first Broadway or off-Broadway show to take our performance virtual. We were seen by over 150k people in 135 countries around the world. And when all the press articles started appearing on our efforts, and when our box office went up, and when our two stars started getting recognized on the street, we knew we were on to something with this streaming thing. And now, five years later, streamin’ is the only thing we have. Since my out-of-the-box-thinking and super courageous artists on Daddy Long Legs were so instrumental in ushering in the idea of theater-to-stream, I couldn’t think of a better group to reunite online during these cray-cray times.” You can watch the show on BroadwayHD (use code DLLBHD) to prepare for the reunion, which is free, but donations will be accepted for the Actors Fund Covid-19 Emergency Relief efforts. Davenport has been one of the busiest theater people around, hosting informal virtual interviews nearly every night, with such luminaries as Stephen Schwartz, Sierra Boggess, Alex Brightman, Ashley Park, Alan Cumming, David Henry Hwang, Marilu Henner, Jenn Colella, Santino Fontana, and more from wherever they are sheltering in place, with Des McAnuff, Kelly Devine, Michael Greif, and others appearing soon. The talks are archived here.
Who: Jon Bon Jovi, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Rachel Brosnahan, Stephen Colbert, Martin Short, Dolly Parton, Dionne Warwick, Stephanie J. Block, Tony Shalhoub, Charlie Day, Chris O’Dowd, Zachary Levi, Zachary Quinto, Robin Thicke, Deborah Cox, Quentin Earl Darrington, Ariana DeBose, Darius de Haas, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Eden Espinosa, Jordan Fisher, Stephanie Hsu, Randy Jackson, Capathia Jenkins, Jeremy Jordan, Ramona Keller, Alex Newell, Karen Olivo, Dawn O’Porter, Laura Osnes, Benj Pasek, Jodi Picoult, Shereen Pimentel, Andrew Rannells, Keala Settle, Jake David Smith, Will Swenson, Bobby Conte Thornton, Ana Villafane, Frank Wildhorn, Broadway Inspirational Voices, Covenant House Youth, more
What: Virtual benefit for Covenant House
Where: Amazon Prime Video, Broadway on Demand, Facebook, iHeartRadio Broadway, Stars in the House, Twitch, YouTube
When: Monday, May 18, free with advance registration (donations accepted), 8:00
Why: Covenant House’s annual gala goes virtual this year with A Night of Covenant House Stars on May 18 at 8:00. It’s free to watch, although you can donate to help homeless youth specifically during Covid-19. The mission of Covenant House, which was founded in 1972 and now has locations in thirty-one cities in six countries, is that “through a combination of support strategies, including educational programs, job training and placement, medical services, mental health and substance abuse counseling, legal aid and beyond, we help young people embrace the great promise of their lives, overcome steep barriers to independence, and strive to achieve their aspirations.” The ninety-minute concert will feature performances by such stars as Stephanie J. Block, Jon Bon Jovi, Dolly Parton, Jeremy Jordan, and Laura Osnes with appearances by Rachel Brosnahan, Stephen Colbert, Meryl Streep, Zachary Quinto, Diane Keaton, Tony Shalhoub, and more, cohosted by Audra McDonald and John Dickerson. While we’re all stuck at home, there are too many young people who don’t have anywhere to go, before, during, and after the pandemic. Covenant House seeks to change that.