In an effort to provide performances despite the pandemic, First Stage announces a new series called "Through Our Lens – A First Stage Virtual Performance Series" which will offer streaming plays, short-form episodic performances, new play readings and other events shared exclusively online.
"Though we may not be able to come together physically to enjoy the magic of live theater, we can still deliver the power of an interactive, shared experience by creating new work designed specifically to be shared through the emerging digital platforms," says artistic director Jeff Frank.
This new virtual series will also include live opportunities to engage audiences with artists or educators to enhance the experience.
First Stage will also offer a new membership program called the Family All-Access Pass that includes all virtual performances and other member benefits. Family All-Access Passes – as well as single tickets to individual virtual performances – will go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 1 at firststage.org.
"While we are not closing the door to producing plays next season, we feel we must wait until we can rehearse, produce and present safely for all involved and in a way that is responsible," says Frank.
Additionally, First Stage will focus its energy on its Theater Academy and Theater in Education programming. The current Theater Academy programs will continue with both virtual classes and limited in-person classes, which are adaptable to a virtual platform if need be.
Here is First Stage's 2020/2021 season:
The Quest for Solomon's Treasure
Streaming Sept. 20-Nov. 1, 2020
Tune in to the world premiere of this seven-episode web series, streaming exclusively for First Stage audiences. The show follows six Milwaukee young people as they work together to solve clues in the ultimate treasure hunt to save the day. With new clues revealed each week in these 15 to 20-minute episodes, audiences are invited to help solve this mystery – and maybe even win prizes. It’s a little bit Goonies, a little bit National Treasure and 100 percent Milwaukee. Suggested for families with young people ages 8+.
The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus
Streaming November 2-22, 2020
Now that school is out, Sheila and her friends are searching for something interesting to explore. What happens next? A walking, talking and surprisingly well-dressed coyote shows up and the kids find themselves on the adventure of a lifetime. Suggested for families with young people ages 7-15+.
She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms
Streaming Nov. 13-22, 2020
A comedic romp into the world of fantasy role-playing games, this show is a dramatic comedy laden with homicidal fairies, nasty ogres and '90s pop culture. It's a heart pounding homage to the geek and warrior in us all. Please note: this production contains some mature language and mild adult themes. Suggested for families with young people ages 14-18+.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Streaming Dec. 4-13, 2020
Betrayal. Love. Disguise. "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" is one of Shakespeare’s earliest and least performed plays. Suggested for families with young people ages 13+.
Escape from Peligro Island - a create-your-own-adventure play
Streaming live Jan. 29, 2021 at 7 p.m.; Jan. 30 at 1 and 3:30 p.m.; Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.; and Feb. 6 at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Recorded episodes available through Feb. 14, 2021
Callaway Brown – an unlikely young hero – has been stranded on a desert island, and it’s up to viewers to decide what happens next. In this interactive production, audience members vote on Callaway’s actions through their computer or phone. Suggested for families with young people ages 6+.
Foundry Readings and Signature Theater Events
First Stage offers these Foundry Readings and Signature Theater Events to stream for free, with additional educational programming and behind-the-scenes opportunities. These events are included with Family All-Access Pass memberships.
First Stage Young Performer Virtual Showcase
Streaming Sept. 6-13, 2020
In celebration of the Milwaukee Black Theater Festival – Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Bronzeville Arts Ensemble, Lights! Camera! Soul! and artists Sheri Williams Pannell, DiMonte Henning and Malkia Stampley, First Stage proudly offers the stage to our BIPOC Young Company and Theater Academy’s advanced acting students to share their voices through monologues, songs and poetry in a virtual showcase. In addition, the showcase will feature a virtual production of Idris Goodwin’s short play, "Act Free."
Apollo and the Trials of Hercules
Streaming Sept. 11-13, 2020, featuring live online discussion with playwrights and directors on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.
Apollo’s father has gone missing and the 14-year-old is trying to find answers to who they are, who they will become, but mostly what happened to their father. For families with young people ages 9-18+.
Scene and Monologues from Utah Shakespeare Festival's high school competition
Streaming Oct. 10-24, 2020
Tune in for a showcase of scenes and monologues from Shakespeare’s repertoire, performed by the most accomplished high school actors in our region.
For more information about any of the offerings for First Stage’s "Through Our Lens – A New Virtual Performance Series" or about buying a Family All-Access Pass, please visit the website or call (414) 267-2961.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.