In an inventive next step between sitting at home watching filmed theater and a return to live performances, Stages theater has opened up a new option for Houston audiences, offering them a chance to rent a pod on the lawn outside their theater facility at The Gordy.
Thanks to a grant from The Meadows Foundation, the non-profit headquartered in Dallas, Stages was able to purchase a large video screen enabling people to socially engage — at a distance — while taking in its 2nd Stages Studio Sessions.
It's a game changer. It opens up our walls and our doors even more, said Stages Artistic Associate Mitchell Greco.
The programs themselves are a continuation of the Stages Studio Sessions created last summer as one of the theater's first responses post-COVID. "They were so widely popular that we added a second round of sessions," said Greco. "Each week is a brand new show put together by a Houston artist. Each week we turn out a brand new, original show." The shows can range anywhere from poetry to cabaret to story telling, he said.
"There are 18 pods on the lawn, on the grass and each can have to four people," said Greco, adding that they are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Attendees have to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets but they can pre-order snacks and drinks online when they reserve and pay for a spot. The cost to rent a pod is $25 per pod.
Those who prefer to watch from home can still do so with each week’s session scheduled for a YouTube Live premiere on Friday at 7:30 p.m., followed by a 48-hour opportunity to view the performance on demand through Sunday night.
This Friday, for instance, Teresa Zimmermann, is scheduled to perform. Stages plans to continue these (weather permitting) through April 18. XXXXX
All filming has been done in accordance with Actors' Equity Association rules in place during the pandemic, Greco said. And audience members are expected to wear masks at least until they are seated and watching the show.
Upcoming programs include: Muhammad F. Khaerisman, available March 26 – 28; John Ryan Del Bosque, available April 2 – 4; Anna Maria Morris, available April 9 – 11; and Carolyn Johnson, April 16 – 18.
"It’ a project that we are very proud of," said Greco. "It's really invigorating to work with all these artists, to work on these very unique shows. Every night that one premieres it’s incredibly moving. It’s a really wonderful time."
The streaming performances are free but registration is required. To register and receive the event link, please visit StagesHouston.com. $25/pod. (Or watch at home for free)
To support the safety and well-being of all attendees, Stages will continue to follow health protocols including temperature checks at check-in, social distancing as indicated by the seating pods, and the use of masks by all participants. Masks are required upon arrival and throughout the outdoor space and the building. Masks may be removed when seated.
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