It may be a new year, but life certainly is not back to normal. Last week Stages announced the entirety of its spring 2021 shows and performances will be virtual, with a few free, in-person screenings later as the months get warmer.
"Throughout the pandemic we have continued to monitor public health guidance and act in response to the most accurate and clear data available," said Artistic Director Kenn McLaughlin in a statement. "Early on, we set a scheduled series of inflection points at which we would consider changes to our programming. We’ve now reached another of those points and unfortunately, conditions in our community remain challenging in terms of gathering."
Last summer, like other theater companies across the country, Stages moved the beginning of its 2020-21 season online in the hopes it could return to in-person shows come October with its re-run of jukebox musical Honky Tonk Laundry. But October came, and October went, and Stages remained online as Covid-19 cases climbed once more. Considering our Covid-19 cases are higher than they were last summer when the season began, this shift to virtual through June makes sense.
But don’t fret, theater lovers, because Stages isn’t holding back with its schedule. The shiny, sparkly silver lining of all this is that theater is more accessible to folks at home, and Houstonians are getting 14 projects to consume.
"Taken together, these 14 projects further Stages' work to offer a compelling range of artistic experiences celebrating diverse voices and stories," McLaughlin said. "Our 2020-21 Season will go down as one of our most unique—but we’re still here and we’re still strong."
This month we’re getting an all-new production of Stages' 2018 hit play Ann, "a no-holds-barred look at the complex and captivating Governor Ann Richards," which was filmed last fall at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and features Sally Edmundson reprising the title role.
The Sin Muros Festival, which celebrates Latinx film- and theater-makers, returns for the fourth year in February, with four world-premiere play readings and Houston artist Candice D’Meza’s world premiere of Fatherland, a multimedia digital project that explores grief and identity.
Stages Studio Sessions is making a comeback in March with six weekly shows featuring Houston artists. And if you’re really missing The Gordy, folks can attend free public screenings of Studio Sessions' Friday broadcasts on the Brown Foundation Lawn.
A live broadcast of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, which celebrates the legacy of Billie Holliday, follows. And finally, the season will close with Late Nite Catechism Las Vegas: Sister Rolls the Dice.
The full lineup will be announced at a later date.