With live theatre shuttered for many theatres worldwide in the wake of COVID-19, theatre artists are, true to nature, getting creative about new and exciting ways to present theatre. Zoom readings and streaming performances may be the most common, but some enterprising artists are going the extra mile to give their audiences a uniquely live and participatory experience by providing materials to ticket buyers for interactive at-home theatre.
Here are six online theatre productions where you join in from your home:
Macbeth: A Surround Sound Experiment
Shakespeare’s classic play has been re-imagined as an immersive aural experience in this new “3D audio” event, featuring an immersive soundscape by Will Padilla. Directed and adapted by Joseph Discher, this Macbeth has been designed to be listened to in the dark on a pair of headphones with a candle and a special cocktail—recipe included with ticket! The cast includes Tamara Tunie (Better Call Saul), Laila Robins (The Boys), Derek Wilson (Future Man), Joel de la Fuente (The Man in High Castle), Robert Cuccioli (Broadway’s Jekyll and Hyde), Geoffrey Owens (The Haves and the Have Nots), Jacob Cogman, Sean Hudock, Rocío Mendez, Tim Nicolai, Mandy Olsen, Shane Taylor, Patrick Toon, and Jeorge Bennett Watson. Tickets for the performances running October 30-November 1 and benefiting The Actors Fund are available at KnockAtTheGate.com. Premium bundles include a candle and Bloody Mary mix shipped to your home to enjoy during the performance.
In the Kitchen
Not only is this play not in a theatre, it’s not in your living room! In the Kitchen invites audience members to head into their own kitchens and cook along with creator Hannah Goldman as she tells stories about Arab-Jewish culture, feminism, and culinary heritage. Tickets include the audio play (which can be listened to on demand), along with an ingredient box and a recipe for Ba’aba Beh Tamur, a delicious Iraqi cookie that audience members make while listening to the play. In The Kitchen is in its final extension and the last boxes must ship by November 13! Tickets are available at ExperimentalBitchPresents.ThunderTix.com.
Inside the Box
Following the sell-out success of The Present, the Geffen is back with another unique streaming theatrical experience on Zoom, this time written and performed by New York Times crossword writer David Kwong. The show centers on puzzle makers throughout history, which Kwong has interwoven with interactive wordplay, multi-layered games, and other surprises. Instead of snail mail, Inside the Box turns to email for its special package of items; ticket holders are emailed a PDF packet of materials to print out a week before their performance. Inside the Box is currently running and sold out through January 3, but you can sign up to be notified when additional showtimes are added or check for returned tickets on GeffenPlayhouse.org.
If you can’t wait for interactive theatre, try this whodunit from the Geffen. Written and directed by Chelsea Marcantel, think of this as a murder mystery party without leaving the house. Twenty-four households, each with one detective, wi work together to solve the crime. “Guided by best-selling true crime author Mickie McKittrick, you and your fellow detectives will uncover the evidence and follow the clues, altering the course of the show every night,” according to the show’s description. “Sometimes the entire group will work together, while at other times you’ll join a smaller breakout room for a more intimate examination of evidence and clues. Ultimately, the entire group will make choices to determine the show’s surprising conclusion.” Performances November 10–December 20. Visit GeffenPlayhouse.org.
On the heels of the extended sold-out run of The Present, writer and performer Helder Guimarães returns to the Geffen Stayhouse (as Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse has renamed themeselves during the shutdown). Guimarães weaves touching and often funny anecdotes and lessons with his signature mind-bending illusions. Presented over Zoom, the Geffen sends audience members a box of items to be opened only when Guimarães instructs during the performance. These items allow some of Guimarães’ illusions to happen in audience members’ own living rooms. Unlike most Zoom performances and akin to live theatre, audience members remain visible to each other throughout the show and are regularly called on to interact with Guimarães. There’s something magical about hearing your fellow theatregoers gasp in amazement and applaud—that glorious sound we miss so much. Performances December 4, 2020–January 31, 2021. For more information, visit GeffenPlayhouse.org.
Experimental B. aren’t the only ones cooking. Filmmaker and cookbook author Sri Rao invites us to prepare a homemade Indian meal along with him for dinner and a show at the Geffen Stayhouse. Rao shares stories of his upbringing, his family’s history of emigrating to America, and his love of Bollywood movies. Participate at one of three levels: Chef’s Table (star alongside Rao in the show as you cook with him in real time), Bollywood Foodie (prepare your meal during the show by watching Rao, but he won’t see you) or Just Here for the Party (no food, just sit back and watch). Director by Arpita Mukherjee, Bollywood Kitchen brings together the dual communal experiences of food and theatre. Get the Bollywood Box delivered to your home and buy your ticket today. Performances January 15, 2021–February 21, 2021. Visit GeffenPlayhouse.org.