Looking ahead at an uncertain future, theater makers are wondering how stage entertainment will get made and experienced in the coming months — and Audible Theater is offering an initial glimpse at what might be next.
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The theater division of the audio entertainment platform, which already produces plays and captures them for audio distribution (“Girls & Boys” with Carey Mulligan, “The Half-Life of Marie Curie”), recently announced a partnership with Williamstown Theatre Festival to make audio versions of WTF’s 2020 season, in lieu of the live productions that the coronavirus pandemic have now made unfeasible. On the new episode of Variety’s theater podcast, Stagecraft, Audible Theater artistic producer Kate Navin gave listeners a taste of how these shows will sound.
“There will be sound design,” she said. “Where appropriate and where possible, there will be slight adaptation to make sure it works in audio. We haven’t quite figured out all the answers.” One thing they do know: The productions won’t be recorded until it’s safe to get an entire cast together in the same studio.
“The plan is to record when people can safely assemble again,” Navin explained. “To do all of our work in preparation remotely, we will use all of the tools that everybody has been using. … But we do assume that people will be able to be in a room together in groups of 10 or 20 much sooner than you can invite an audience into a space. So it is our hope that we can record this summer. “
It’s possible that WTF’s season won’t be the only theater that migrates to Audible in the coming months.
“We’re having a lot of conversation with theaters and with producers,” Navin said. “Nothing else that looks like an entire season at this point, but yeah, there’s a lot of heartbreak around the abrupt stop that happened in March, and then this continuation of the unknown. So we are talking about what role we can play within the community to preserve that work, to make sure that it didn’t get lost, and/or to also keep it top of mind so it can come back next season.”
Also on the new episode of Stagecraft, Navin discussed Audible’s broader mandate for its theater initiatives, which include a partnership with Off Broadway’s Minetta Lane Theater as well as a commissioning program. “Audible Theater really started out of a desire to make theater available to more people,” Navin said. “How can we employ under-employed theater artists? … What can we do to provide more opportunity in that space?”
She added, “I think we need to break down this wall a bit of what theater is and can be. That will invite people in to our theater to come experience it.”
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