On Stage at Kingsborough is going virtual for its 2020 fall season — presenting nine different online programs focused on giving audiences a different experience than what is traditionally “on stage.”
“I really wanted to offer a different perspective on live performance,” said Anna Becker, the theater’s executive director, “rather than try to do some kind of facsimile.”
The theater program inside Kingsborough Community College brings world-class performances to the Manhattan Beach campus — and Becker wanted this season to be no different despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“We really took a long time over the summer to think through how we were going to respond to this,” Becker said. “I really wanted to think through what we were doing, why we are doing it and that we aren’t just reacting to something.”
She wanted to offer viewers more than archival footage of past performances, and instead make the most of the current situation — eventually landing upon recorded performances which offer views and insights not available when watching from the audience.
“The ability to kind of see the emotion on a dancer’s face and understand how that drives their body or see the fingers on the keyboard,” she explained. “Just to be able to really see how it works and a deeper look you can’t see in a theater.”
The idea blossomed from a conversation Becker had with a Spanish producer, who offered On Stage the opportunity to film an at-the-time upcoming Flamenco performance set at an outdoor Roman amphitheater in southern Spain.
“It inspired everything else,” Becker said. “We can film it the way we want, we can stage the filming where we can get up close and personal.”
Becker was thrilled with the end result — a taped performance offering different focuses and vantage points — and set out to commission more footage produced in a similar style to fill out the company’s fall season.
“This crew got up close to the dancer’s face, up close to the feet on the ground, the guitarist’s fingers on the guitar,” Becker said. “Being able to zero in on key moments at will, it really deepens the experience.”
In another one of this season’s spectacles, Becker and her team were able to pull together “an amazing list of Broadway stars” such as Christine Andreas from “My Fair Lady” and Dee Roscioli from “The Cher Show” to sing songs from their shows for a performance exclusive to Kingsborough that will be available to view from Oct. 21-25 at 8 pm.
Shows will be accompanied by “virtual lobbies,” a Zoom channel where viewers can gather and discuss the show, which Becker said is a beloved aspect of live shows she presumes many theater-goers are longing for during quarantine.
“In real life, we would gather in the lobby at intermission and after the show and people would talk about what they thought and what they saw and what they’re looking forward to seeing,” Becker said. “It’s a way to gather because I am sure as much as people miss the performances, they must miss gathering.”
The virtual season includes nine performances, ranging from music to theater, running through Dec. 20 on their website. Viewers can pay what they can for tickets with a suggested donation amount for each show.
“We’re really proud to be continuing our commitment to presenting world class performers from around the globe as well,” Becker said. “That commitment is still here and we hope that we are offering a new way of looking at live performance that’s exciting and keeps the theater seats warm until people can come back.”