Although everyone would rather be watching live theater in person at venues throughout the region, there’s something to be said about viewing performances on a whim, online. I bet that the online viewing experience has brought new theater fans to the forefront, who might never have stepped out to catch the performances during a “regular” season. The hope is that these people will have a better appreciation of WNY’s writers, playwrights, and poets, and once the pandemic is over, and that they will in turn be bigger supporters of our region’s cultural bounty.
Just this morning, I found myself watching American Repertory Theater of WNY’s 716 Voices series (Narratives from WNY Writers), featuring writers that include Mark Humphrey, James Marzo, Susan Hutchinson, Donald Capers, DonnaMarie Vaughan, Justin Pope, Monish Bhattacharyya, and Michael Fanelli. With cup of coffee in hand, I must say that it was a great way to start out the day.
Each of the WNY writers uses regional backgrounds to tell a story – for example, Susan Hutchinson’s “Reflections,” where she ‘steps back in time’ to ponder some of the questions that we have all thought about asking previous generations pertaining to the pandemic, and life as it unfolded at the hands of an invisible foe (the piece was narrated by and features Suzanne Hibbard).
Other voices discuss the importance of art, sounds, technology, nature, and how everything has been altered.
What are the lessons? What will post-pandemic life look like? How will Buffalo’s cultural landscape continue to evolve?
These writers were each given the assignment to create:
Two to three paragraphs, closely to a monologue forum, that reflects yourself and what others are feeling, doing, expressing during this current health crisis. It can be funny, genuflecting, political or whatever moves you. The work then be recorded and used as a VO in vid shorts highlighting various WNY areas as an aesthetic compliment to the words.
Now, the results are being posted to American Repertory Theater’s Facebook Watch page.
Interested WNY writers can submit their works for consideration by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.