Looking for a documentary that goes behind the scenes as theater workers put together a high-profile production? How about a live-captured performance? Whatever your preference may be, here are five films that provide insight into the theater-making process, from inception to presentation.
To the Stage
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the spring of 2020, the Public Theater was preparing to remount its 2017 Public Works production of “As You Like It.” The documentary “Under the Greenwood Tree” charts the development of the musical, which brought together more than 200 amateur performers across New York City.
Eschewing the proscenium stage, immersive theater brings the audience close to the auction. This episode of the ALL ARTS series IMMERSIVE.WORLD showcases what this means from the perspective of the actors, dancers and performers who make up the genre. Paying close attention to the relationship built between the audience and the artists, “Immersive Theater” focuses on the two major New York productions “Here” and “Sleep No More.”
On the Stage
“School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play” made its Off-Broadway debut at MCC Theater in 2017, sweeping up three Lucille Lortel Awards and a Drama Desk Award. The comedy explores colorism at an exclusive boarding school in Ghana and is directed by Tony Award-winner Rebecca Taichman and penned by playwright Jocelyn Bioh — author of a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” set to premiere at Shakespeare in the Park this summer.
Dael Orlandersmith’s one-woman show “Until the Flood” weaves together interviews conducted within the Ferguson, Miss., community following the 2014 killing of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by the white police officer Darren Wilson. In the play, Orlandersmith embodies eight different characters and perspectives.
ALL ARTS presented the production in the fall of 2020 in partnership with a cohort of regional theaters, including ACT Theatre, Center Theatre Group, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Goodman Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Portland Center Stage, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.
Beyond the Stage
The concert “Women of Color on Broadway” sees some of the theater’s most beloved works performed by a fleet of stars at the Cooper Union’s Great Hall. The live-captured evening pays tribute to Melba Moore and LaChanze, with Darlesia Cearcy, Kayla Davion, Kimberly Marable, Aléna Watters and more performing a jukebox of Broadway staples.
If you’d like to hear more, check out our “Women of Color on Broadway” playlist.