Theatre fans who use video iPods and other portable video devices now have access to the long-running theatrical discussion series. This marks the first time that audiences outside of New York will have access to the lively video panel discussions "untethered to their computers," the Wing announced July 11.
The 10 most recent programs from the 2005-2006 season are posted online at www.americantheatrewing.org/podcasts/, with additional programs to be added in the coming weeks. Included in the initial run of seminars available for download are programs focusing on the musicals The Drowsy Chaperone and See What I Wanna See, a directors program featuring Bartlett Sher, Mark Lamos and Anne Bogart, and actor-focused programs with panelists including Richard Griffiths, Jill Clayburgh, Michael Cerveris, Zoë Wanamaker and Brían F. O'Byrne.
In addition to the ATW website, the videos can also be accessed via iTunes.
"The American Theatre Wing pioneered cable programming in New York with the seminars 27 years ago," said Howard Sherman, executive director of ATW, in a statement. "Making our educational work available as mp4s for free download puts us at the forefront of adopting new technology in service of accessibility, as we continue to pursue our mission of helping students and audiences to understand more about how theatre gets made."
The mp4 files are the newest element of www.americantheatrewing.org, the American Theatre Wing's newly redesigned website, which houses an extensive audio and video archive of theatrical interviews and conversation — more than 350 hours of unique material dating from 1980 to 2006. The upgraded site features advanced search capability, enabling users to search by topic, year or by individual artist.
The "Working in the Theatre" seminars have been available online as streaming video since 2003, with new and classic programs added regularly. They were joined in June 2004 by streaming audio of "Downstage Center," the Wing's collaboration with XM Satellite Radio; those programs have been accessible as mp3 podcasts since July of 2005.
Now in their fourth decade, the American Theatre Wing's "Working in the Theatre" panels "have brought together theatre's best-known performers, producers, playwrights, directors, choreographers, composers, agents and others for peer-to-peer, in-depth conversations about theatre. Begun simply as public forums, the seminars have been broadcast in New York City since 1979 on CUNY TV, the country's largest university-based television station, as well as on select cable systems around the country."
Highlights from the seminars have been collected in the new book, "Acting: Working in the Theatre" (Continuum International Publishing Group/The K.S. Giniger Company Inc.; $14.95; paperback), the first in a series of four to be drawn from the lively and insightful discussions led by the American Theatre Wing.
The American Theatre Wing is a not-for-profit organization best known as the creator of the Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards, which it presents annually with the League of American Theatres and Producers. The Wing's other activities, dedicated to recognizing excellence and supporting education in theatre, include "Guides to Careers in the Theatre," a video series developed for schools and libraries; a grants and scholarship program to New York City schools and not-for-profit theatre companies, which has awarded more than $2.5 million since its inception; the Theatre Intern Group, a career development program for young professionals; and SpringboardNYC, a two-week college-to-career boot camp for young performers moving to NYC. Sondra Gilman is chairman of the board of the American Theatre Wing, Doug Leeds is board president and Howard Sherman is executive director.