While the coronavirus has paralysed the West End, theatre-lovers do have some small consolation. Several theatres have released recordings of their previous shows, some of which will be aired on television. Here are eight to watch out for:
One Man, Two Guvnors
James Corden stars in One Man, Two Guvnors
Youtube (2 – 9 April only)
Less a play and more an institution, Richard Bean’s globe-conquering comedy had sell-out audiences roaring with laughter in both London and New York. You can see why, then, the National would choose it as the first play for its NT at Home scheme, which will see a different play streamed online each week. After all, who couldn’t do with a laugh right now? A slight content warning, though, that the lead man happens to be that most marmitey of Marmite figures James Corden. Though even if you can’t stand the man, you can perhaps take comfort that it was this play which helped divert his career away from Britain and over to the States.
Other shows on in April are Jane Eyre, Treasure Island and Twelfth Night. Each performance will be shown live at 7pm on Thursdays and will be available to view for a week.
BBC Four (Date TBD)
This 2017 play from Mike Bartlett (the mind behind Doctor Foster and Kings Charles III) was that rarest of all things: a decent play about Brexit. Not that there are any politicians in it, mind you. Or even a mention of the B-word itself. Instead Bartlett’s story centres around a well-heeled outdoorsy type looking to restore an old English garden to its former glory – all set against a backdrop of family strife, class conflict and a sapphic love affair. The end result is a modern spin on a Chekovian ‘big house’ drama – perfect for BBC Four’s ‘Culture in Quarantine’ season, which launches in April.
BBC Four (Date TBD)
With Doctor Who’s Christopher Ecclestone in the title role, this RSC production from 2018 is about as weighty and gruff a Macbeth as you could hope for. It’s one of several RSC plays that will be broadcast on BBC Four between April and September, alongside Paapa Essiedu’s star turn in Hamlet and Polly Findlay’s powerful contemporary version of the Merchant of Venice from 2015 (in which acclaimed Israeli actor Makram Khoury – the first Arab to win Israel’s most prestigious cultural prize – takes on the role of Shylock).
Facebook (until 23 April)
Glaswegian playwright Kieran Hurley is widely regarded over the border as one to watch. He’s recently been commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland to pen a new version of Ibsen’s Enemy of the People to be toured around rural Scotland. Bubble, produced byTheatre Uncut, is something slightly different: an online play in which actors (who auditioned over Skype) take on the roles of various students caught up in a campus controversy when a professor rudely dismisses a female student. Presented as a Zoom-style video chat – something planned months before Covid-19 – it’s ended up looking like the perfect play for our strange new world.
YouTube (until 26 April)
To mark World Theatre Day on March 27, the Royal Court released a special online version of Cyprus Avenue, a 2016 play written by Northern Irish dramatist David Ireland. Be aware though, this isn’t one for the faint-hearted, revolving as it does around a foul-mouthed Loyalist footsoldier convinced his newborn baby is possessed by the spirit of Gerry Adams. When it opened in Sloane Square the play divided opinion between those who considered it a genius satire on sectarianism and those who regarded it shock-hungry violent tripe. Head to YouTube and make up your own mind.
Treasure Island, The National Theatre
YouTube (16-23 April only)
With the schools closed and working parents back at home, it makes some sense that the National has focused on family shows for its NT at Home season. And what better to delight the kids than this adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel which served as the National’s big Christmas extravaganza back in 2014. Arthur Darvill, then one of the main companions in the Tardis, makes for a suitably slippery Long John Silver, but it was newcomer Patsy Ferran who stole the show with her gender-bending take on Jim Hawkins. Five years later she’s one of the most-loved names in the West End – and the deserved owner of an Olivier award for best actress.
Wise Children, originally at The Old Vic
BBC Four (Date TBD)
Directed by Emma Rice, the former boss of Shakespeare’s Globe, this adaptation of Angela Carter’s novel won five star reviews when it opened at the Old Vic in 2018. Being a shamelessly flamboyant production – much of it feels more like circus or vaudeville than straight theatre – it’s the ideal choice for the small screen. The novel itself was a very much a love letter to the theatre and Carter’s fixation with the Bard, making continuous use of Shakespearean themes (and turning them on their head in the process).
Pining for the theatre? Watch these seven plays online
Columbia’s class of 2020 will not only graduate amid a global health pandemic but likely also in the onslaught of a recession that some economists say could be worse than the 2008 Great Recession.
Columbia seniors evaluate their career prospects
Like many graduating seniors, Colin Lenburg was already anxious about securing work in the film industry without the added pressure of a recession spurred by many businesses closing and laying off workers due to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic.
Lenburg, a senior cinema art and science major, works at Bass Pro Shop—which remains open as an “essential” business to sell firearms—to help provide for himself and his mother, who works at a hotel.
He started the job in November 2018, hoping it would be temporary so he could pursue his passion for filmmaking. But now, because of the economic side effects of the coronavirus, he’s been working up to 60 hours a week to make ends meet.
“Part of being an artist is being able to swallow your pride and do something that’s not in your field for a little bit, just to put food on the table,” Lenburg said. “But I don’t even know if we’re going to be able to get jobs in our fields.”
Over the week of March 15, more than 3 million people filed for unemployment benefits, nearly five times the previous record in 1982. The unemployment rate may surge to 13% by May, which is higher than during the Great Recession, as reported Thursday, March 26, by the Associated Press.
Jason Stephens, an associate professor of instruction in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department at Columbia, said if the pandemic continues for an extended period of time, graduating students should come up with a backup career plan and start thinking about ways in which they can make themselves “valuable” to companies in this rapidly changing economy.
“Economies do not like uncertainty. The biggest issue that we’re dealing with right now is that nobody knows what to expect,” Stephens said. “[Students] have to apply the skills they’ve been learning while at Columbia and combine them in new ways to innovate in this economy.”
Michelle Tlusty, a senior musical theatre major, is fearful of the long-term impact a recession could have on smaller Chicago theatre companies.
“It’s scary to see this happening because not only is it taking an economic toll, it’s taking a mental health toll for a lot of people,” Tlusty said. “I don’t know how the theatre industry is going to be able to bounce back when their revenue directly relies on viewership.”
Additionally, with Columbia classes transitioning online for the remainder of the semester, Tlusty worries she will be less prepared to enter the theatre industry after graduation, as so many classes provide her with valuable in-person feedback from professors who currently work in the industry.
Tlusty said she is keeping her options open and has been looking into various backup career plans in the communications field, such as marketing, administrative assistance and even sales.
“Being a theatre person, you have to be able to communicate,” Tlusty said. “That [skill] will be very beneficial for me.”
How Columbia students will be affected
Columbia plans to assist both graduating seniors in finding jobs and current students in securing internships by allowing them to take full advantage of the college’s Career Center, said Jennifer Halperin, an internship and career adviser at Columbia.
“If [students have] taken the advice of the career professionals and the faculty that they have been working with, they’re going to get a job,” Halperin said. “It may take a lot of applications, but they’re going to get a job.”
Students who have had their one- or three-credit internships canceled will receive work from the school that will replicate the experience which students would have received, Halperin said.
For those who have had job offers or interviews canceled, they will receive assistance from the Career Center in trying to reach out to recruiters, who Halperin said have been receptive thus far.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire world is in the exact same boat,” Halperin said. “I’m optimistic that things are going to come back stronger than before because this is a shared experience that we’re all going through.”
Halperin said several digital communication, marketing and social media-related jobs are still being posted to the Handshake employment platform, and that “once the world returns back to normal,” all other Columbia art-related jobs and internship opportunities will come back with a “vengeance.”
Halperin added that the Career Center has smoothly transitioned online, and advisers have opened their schedule to more appointments. The Career Center’s resources will be available to students for a full year after they graduate, she said.
As for Lenburg, he will continue working at Bass Pro Shop but is unsure what the future holds for him and his mother and how they will take advantage of the government’s stimulus check.
“It’s just existential dread. That’s the best way to describe it. It’s just existential dread,” Lenburg said.
One local congressperson is more immediately worried about the housing needs of students.
Serving as chairman of the Worker and Family Support subcommittee on the House Committee for Ways and Means, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (7th District) said colleges and universities requiring students to vacate dorms should be cognizant of how it could harm students from low-income backgrounds.
“We have a large student population, the South Loop in and of itself has thousands of students,” said Davis, who represents the district Columbia is in. “Colleges and universities, especially in their planning, need to make sure that they [take] into consideration the needs of foster youth who may not have a home to go to when you shut down the campus, low-income youth who don’t have any place to stay, or the large number of homeless youth.”
Davis said he’s been in touch with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and South Suburban PADS, a homeless shelter network, and also the state, county, and city governments to make sure no one is left behind.
“There’s still going to be some individuals who fall through the cracks,” Davis said. “We hope that we can seal those cracks as soon as possible, but that’s kind of where I see things right now.”
The CARES Act stimulus deal
President Donald Trump signed a multi-trillion dollar stimulus bill into law Friday, March 27, after a back-and-forth battle in Congress. The CARES Act, or “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” will provide a one-time relief check to taxpayers. Those who are registered as independent taxpayers on their 2019 forms and who have no children and earned less than $99,000 can expect to receive a check or direct deposit of up to $1,200 from the Internal Revenue Service within a few weeks.
The CARES Act also allows borrowers to postpone student loan payments through Sept. 30, and interest will not accrue on federal loans during this time period.
The Act includes allocations for an Emergency Stabilization Fund for some higher education institutions. Of the funds colleges receive, 50% must go directly to students as emergency financial aid grants to be used for expenses incurred from the closure of campus because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators.
Lambrini Lukidis, associate vice president of Strategic Communications and External Relations, said the college is reviewing the stimulus bill, and that both Columbia and its students will receive funds as part of the CARES Act.
Lukidis said the college is still determining exact amounts.
How does this compare to the 2008 recession?
Liliana N. Fargo, a professor of economics at DePaul University, said it took eight years for the country to recover from the high levels of unemployment in the Great Recession, and four years for the gross domestic product to rebound.
But this situation is different, she said.
“It’s not only in the United States but around the world that [the coronavirus] is affecting change supplies, and it’s affecting production,” Fargo said. “In order to restore that production, it will take a while. I don’t expect that will end in one year.”
Fargo said the recession will most directly affect non-essential businesses that have been closed in states under a “stay-at-home” mandate, which includes Chicago. These “non-essential” businesses include movie theaters, gyms, salons, museums and casinos, to name a few.
Although Fargo could not predict how long it will take for global economics to rebound, she said “it’s going to be a permanent change in many ways.”
Coronavirus-induced recession causes uncertainty for graduating seniors
Unless you are living under a rock, you are likely aware that Tom Hanks and his lovely wife, actor and singer Rita Wilson, were the first prominent celebrities to be afflicted with the coronavirus. Because of my close personal relationship with HANX (we close personal friends know him by HANX) I have been overwhelmed with inquires from others concerning Tom and Rita’s condition. I am happy to report that both are reportedly doing just fine.
When I signed on to participate in the State Theatre project in 2010, little did I know that Tom Hanks and I would one day be close personal friends. Let me tell you how that occurred.
Tom Hanks’ mother, Janet Turner, resided in Red Bluff most of her adult life and was a highly respected administrator in the nursing home industry throughout the United States. Long divorced from Tom’s father, Mrs. Turner had four children, two of which (Sandy and Jim) were raised in Red Bluff. Tom lived with his father in the Bay Area while spending many summers with his mother in Red Bluff.
Prior to the State Theatre for the Arts buying it, local businessmen Ben Sale and Ron Clark owned the theater. Ron Clark just happened to be a good friend to Janet Turner, and over time came to know and develop a friendship with son Tom as well.
While Clark owned the building and STFTA rented it for use as a concert/movie venue, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson made the first of several meaningful financial contributions that were used in support of initial restoration projects.
In late 2010, STFTA obtained a mortgage to buy the theater. We hit the jackpot by scheduling the legendary Merle Haggard as our very first concert performer late that year. In conjunction with that full house concert, we held a raffle and live auction that — among other items — featured several Tom Hanks autographed movie posters.
It was also at that time that I spoke with HANX for the very first time. Through the assistance of Ron Clark I spoke to Tom on the phone, and he volunteered to send us a promotional video calling for support of the historic State Theatre to be played at the Merle Haggard concert.
I still remember how excited the crowd was when Tom told us how he watched the movie “Tigger” at the State, and how he still remembers the magnificent murals on the walls. One of the great actors of all time fell in love with the movies at the State Theatre; go figure.
About a year later, we received a call from one of Tom’s representatives. Tom had just produced and starred in a film titled “Larry Crowne.” Tom often flew his mother to Hollywood for movie premieres, but because she was at that time not well Tom thought it might be fun for her to hold a “Larry Crowne” premiere at the State Theatre.
It turns out that for us it was the perfect event. By then we were well into a capital campaign to purchase and restore the theater, and inviting a couple hundred theater supporters to the premiere was a the perfect way to say thank you.
I can still remember Tom’s mom, elegantly dressed, holding a bouquet of roses, arriving in a limousine. I can remember how we all enjoyed wine and appetizers at the State; and I will never forget how we all traveled down to Prime Cinema — where Tom had purchased every seat in the house for a couple hundred folks from Red Bluff to enjoy his movie.
Tom’s momma seldom missed an event at the theater. I came to know her well, and visited her in her home on several occasions. While she was obviously proud of Tom the actor, it was also obvious to me that she loved all four of her children equally. On several occasions I went home with a jar of her famous apricot jam.
Sadly, in July of 2017 Janet Turner passed away. When Tom called to ask if the family might hold her memorial service at the State Theatre, I responded that we would be honored.
It was then that I informed him that I had been telling folks all over town that he and I were best friends. I asked him if he might help me by pretending we were close friends when he came to town. He did his best when he first entered the lobby of the theater, walked over to the janitor, giving him a hug while saying “Bill, it’s really nice to see you.” At least he tried.
As for the memorial service, it was absolutely perfect. Not because it was a Tom Hanks production, but rather because it was a family honoring a mother who did the very best she could on their behalf.
In October of 2018, Tom’s better half, Rita Wilson, honored us by appearing in concert at the State Theatre. Not only is she a beautiful and extremely talented performer, she is an absolute sweetheart. In the highest of high heels, she stood in the lobby for at least two hours after her show signing autographs, taking photos with and exchanging small talk with almost every person who attended the show.
Over the last decade the State Theatre has received movie memorabilia and financial contributions from Tom Hanks on multiple occasions. Over that same decade we have spoken multiple times on the phone.
I have a photo of Tom and me as my profile photo on my Facebook page, and I would guess that Tom has chosen the same photo as his Facebook profile photo as well.
Over that same decade we have exchanged hand written notes each and every year. Just last month, on February 28, 2020, I received a note from Tom stating, “Bill, I hope 2020 is good for the State and a visit ASAP!! Tom Hanks.” If that is not proof that we are best friends, I don’t know what is. Thank you HANX. You are the best.
Bill Cornelius is a life long resident of Red Bluff, a retired Chief Probation Officer, a champion of the State Theatre and an exceptional athlete. He can be reached at [email protected]
Persons traveling through downtown Bainbridge can’t help but notice the work being done on the facade of the LTL Flowers building on the east side of the square.
Denise Webb has owned the building and the business for 22 years and at the time of purchase she and family members did the research on its history. She has photos dating back to the 1800’s when it housed The Flint River mercantile store.
But by far, the more interesting history is when it was the Ritz movie theater. Denise said her Momma used to go to the theater when she was a teenager, as did most of the young folks in the area.
Clayton Penhallegon remembers as a boy riding his bicycle to the theatre on Saturday afternoons in the late 1940’s, early 50’s. “It was where everyone of my age went.” They always showed cowboy movies on Saturdays featuring such stars as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Theatre manager was Clark Gurley and it was not unusual for a mother of one of the boys to call Gurley and ask him to tell her son it was time to come home.
Penhallegon said, “It was the place to be and to be seen.” Then, along came the upgraded Martin Theater, located where the Bank of the Ozark drive thru is now located, and that marked the end of The Ritz.
Penhallegon said he was in the building later on when it was rented to another business and could see initials written on the walls. He also noted the floor sloped toward the stage as it did for the theatre.
Webb says she has always had a desire to try to restore the building to its original look. The brick front and upstairs windows were long ago covered up with stucco, and she longed to bring it back to its former glory.
After the hurricane damaged the building, she was motivated, with help from the insurance company, to get started on her project. She hired Chip Hall as contractor and he began work on the building mid-February.
A telephone interview with Hall found he is excited about trying to bring the building back to the original look. He knows there were originally three windows in the upstairs and he is hoping as he removes all the covering that he will still find them there. “So far we have been fortunate that the structure of the building has not been compromised.” He is happy they will be able to leave the bricks and the pilasters on each side of the windows. Hall, a Bainbridge native, has a long record of working on historic buildings., including the Bainbridge City Hall.
He just completed rebuilding the old cannon in Willis Park. As for the Ritz Theatre building, Hall says, “I am trying to bring back its old glory and revive history.”
Webb says additional plans for the building are under consideration, including adding apartments to the upstairs. In the meantime, she wants everyone to know that even while work progresses, she is open for business, as long as they pardon her mess.
Reviving the Ritz
Amid the rapid rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the film industry is rethinking how it will reach consumers. While distributors and movies studios are postponing the releases of new films like Mulan and Fast and Furious 9, many major movie theater chains are closing throughout the United States to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus; both AMC Theatres and Regal announced that they would be shutting down all U.S. locations following the CDC’s release of new guidelines early this week.
As a result, many of the films that recently hit the big screen or were slated to still be in theaters now will be headed to streaming or digital distribution early. Some films, like Universal Pictures’ Trolls World Tour, which was due to release in theaters April 10, will even be available on streaming and digital services without making a theatrical debut.
Organized by the dates on which they became or will become available on demand, here are all the movies coming to streaming early. And if indies are more your speed, scroll down to see where to get your indie fix on various streamers offering discounted access.
When to look out for big studio movies
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (iTunes, Prime Video)
The final installment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy was made available to purchase on digital platforms a few days early. There’s no word yet on when it will hit Disney’s streaming platform, Disney+.
Frozen 2 (Disney+)
Disney is releasing the icy follow-up to its family-friendly 2013 box-office bonanza on its streaming service three months earlier than planned.
The Invisible Man (iTunes, Prime Video)
Universal/Blumhouse’s science fiction thriller hit theaters on Feb. 28, but will be available to view from the comfort of your own home less than a month after its release ($19.99 for a 48-hour VOD rental).
The Hunt (iTunes, Prime Video)
The Hunt‘s initial release was canceled after the controversial film received criticism following mass shootings in 2019; its re-release in theaters took place on March 13, but because of the coronavirus, it will now be available for streaming on March 20 ($19.99 for a 48-hour VOD rental).
Emma (iTunes, Prime Video)
Focus Features’ new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma has been in theaters since Feb. 21, but will be coming to streaming a month after its release ($19.99 for 48-hour VOD rental).
The new Pixar film, which opened earlier this month and features the voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Hollannd, will be available for purchase on digital platforms on the evening of March 20 for $19.99 before hitting Disney+ on April 3.
Birds of Prey (iTunes, Prime Video)
The D.C./Warner Bros. superhero flick hit theaters on Feb. 7, but it will now be available to buy for $19.99 on March 24 and available to rent in April.
The Vin Diesel comic adaptation will be available to purchase for $19.99.
Warner Bros. will release Just Mercy, the film based on lawyer and Equal Justice Institute founder Bryan Stevenson’s memoir, to streaming and digital on March 24. It had its theatrical debut on Christmas day 2019.
STK’s Guy Ritchie-helmed thriller The Gentlemen will be available for digital and streaming release, 60 days after its January theatrical debut.
The Way Back
The new Ben Affleck drama from Warner Bros. will be available to purchase for $19.99.
The English-language remake of Ruben Östlund’s 2014 dramedy Force Majeure, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, will be available to buy digitally and on Movies Anywhere.
I Still Believe
The faith-based biopic about Christian music star Jeremy Camp will be available for $19.99.
This recently-released movie starring Jesse Eisenberg is based on the true story of a network that arose to save thousands of orphans whose parents were killed by Nazis during World War II.
The Call of the Wild
The Harrison Ford family movie, based on the Jack London novel, is being made available early to buy digitally and on Movies Anywhere.
Bad Boys For Life
The third installment of the Bad Boys franchise, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, hit theaters in January but will get an early digital release at the end of the month.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Paramount’s movie about the Blue Blur, voiced by Ben Scwartz, with a villain portrayed by Jim Carrey, will be available for early digital purchase on March 31.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Filmmaker Eliza Hittman’s drama, about a teenage girl in rural Pennsylvania facing an unwanted pregnancy, was just released on March 13 but will be available to rent for $19.99 on April 3.
Trolls World Tour
Universal/DreamWorks’ Trolls World Tour was scheduled for theatrical release on April 10; as most theaters’ will be closed, they’ll be releasing the film digitally and for streaming on the same day.
This Kumail Nanjiani/Issa Rae comedy from director Michael Showalter, about a couple that gets mixed up in a murder mystery, has moved from a theatrical release with Paramount to digital release on Netflix.
While Disney’s release date for its live-action Mulan has been delayed indefinitely, the studio is not planning on doing a streaming-only release on Disney+, as of this time.
Where to get your indie movie fix
Selected Tribeca Film Festival Shorts
While the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival has been postponed, the organization behind the festival will be rolling out short films from Tribeca alumni on its website as part of a program called “A Short Film a Day Keeps the Anxiety Away.” A new short will debut every day at 11 am.
This AMC Networks streaming service is offering a free 30-day trial with the code SUNDANCENOW30. Watch indie hits like We Need to Talk About Kevin and Tangerine.
Magnolia Pictures DOX Channel
Magnolia is offering 50% off its documentary channel DOX, available to new subscribers until the end of March. Offerings include Man on Wire, Blackfish and Venus and Serena.
Miscellaneous Other Offerings
The Green Fog: An experimental take on Vertigo, this L.A. Film Critics Circle pick uses found footage from a misty San Francisco to pay homage to one of Hitchcock’s greatest thrillers. It’s now streaming for free on Vimeo.
Selected work of Penny Lane: Indie director Penny Lane, whose most recent film was 2019’s Satanic Temple documentary Hail Satan?, has put three of her critically acclaimed documentaries up for free on Vimeo.