COVID-19 and the arts: Iconic Chicago theater now streaming 6 productions


CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The coronavirus pandemic has impacted so many aspects of life, and one area hit especially hard is the arts.

With theaters closed, and stages dark, actors, production teams and support staff have been forced to find new ways to reach people and work.

NewsNation anchor Marni Hughes sat down with three members of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago to learn more about what they’re doing to meet the moment.

“It’s been brutal,” said Brooke Flanagan, executive director for Steppenwolf. “In Chicago alone, we have over 80,000 working artists in the nonprofit arts industry. We represent somewhere upwards of 17-and-a-half billion dollars in economic output annually. We’ve had to pivot and create really unique ways to stay connected to our audiences and to create ways for artists to continue to create.”

One of those ways is the virtual.

The Steppenwolf NOW virtual stage launched in November and will feature six streaming productions through next August including a filmed play called “What is Left Burns” starring Jon Michael Hill.

Hill admits he misses performing in front a live audience, but said “everybody is making concessions.”

“And in this time that seems like one we can live with, for the safety of everyone,” he added.

Long-time stage manager Laura Glenn is also been making concessions. She is in her 30th season with Steppenwolf and has worked with countless actors, including Steve Martin.

“Many have been furloughed and many of us are also still trying to figure out some ways to do some work,” she said. “Steppenwolf has been incredibly generous and trying to keep as many of us busy and employed as they can.”

Glenn said a vaccine to fight the virus gives her and others hope that soon the theater lights will snap back on.

In the meantime, the storytelling continues.

“I think the desire and the love for theater is still burning and isn’t going to die out,” Hill said. “So whenever the country catches up to, you know, being able to put people back on stage, I think people will be ready.”

More info:

Steppenwolf Theatre:

More information about virtual programming from the theatre: “Steppenwolf NOW

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