The Geffen Playhouse becomes a ‘Stayhouse’ to keep theater alive in a virtual format

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“The Present,” a sensible magic act from Helder Guimarães tailored to a virtual format, is ending its prolonged run, which started in May, later this month. Guimarães performs card methods, augmenting that with an affectionate look again at his youth, when an accident pressured him to keep residence for a stretch, reflective of the experiences individuals are presently enduring.

Having carried out for small teams — every of which obtained a field in the mail containing gadgets put to use throughout the present — Guimarães’ manufacturing will conclude with a “grand finale” on Oct. 17 that has already registered 1000’s of viewers.

Not dangerous for a presentation that, with out coronavirus, would have been mounted in the smaller of the Geffen’s two theaters, and which has attracted individuals from throughout the globe, together with Europe and Asia in addition to the magician’s native Portugal.

“All of a sudden we have fans and friends in different cities, and people who are enjoying our work all over the world,” Matt Shakman, the Geffen’s inventive director, informed CNN.

As a follow-up, the Geffen has launched “Inside the Box,” a night of magic and puzzles from New York Times “cruciverbalist” (that’s, crossword puzzle constructor) David Kwong, who loved a future in New York with a present known as “The Enigmatist.”

Kwong was scheduled to carry out on the Geffen earlier than coronavirus intervened. His virtual present — which rapidly offered out and was prolonged by Jan. 3 — is “entirely new,” he mentioned, tailor-made to an viewers that may take part on a five-by-five Zoom grid.

“The goal is to get people to interact across those virtual lines,” Kwong mentioned. The cameras will likely be working by stage managers remotely.

While the recognition of those exhibits has offered a increase to the closed theater, Shakman mentioned the intangible features of having the ability to proceed reaching audiences is nearly as vital as no matter income the exhibits generate.

“For sure it has been helpful financially, but just spiritually,” he mentioned. He added that the exhibits offered “a very intimate experience,” with “The Present” having grown out of a dialogue “about how we could just stay in touch with our audience.”

When “The Present” opened, Los Angeles Times critic Charles McNulty wrote that the present is “the closest approximation I’ve had to being in a theater since the pandemic closed the venues. The show contains a slew of card tricks, but the real sleight of hand is the transformation of digital into theatrical space.”

Kwong’s present is totally different, however the objective of forging a connection in a manner that overcomes the digital divide is way the identical.

“A big part of this show is this idea that human beings are at their most creative when they have to think inside the box,” Kwong mentioned. “Art is flourishing right now. I’ve been very impressed with all these virtual shows that I’ve been seeing.”

The Geffen, in the meantime, is engaged on further ideas, and likewise in contact with different theatrical entities and organizations as they fight to navigate what their world may appear like for the foreseeable future, with the announcement that New York City’s Broadway venues would keep darkish by May.

One nice shock, Shakman famous, is that the theater hasn’t had problem advertising and marketing its exhibits, as individuals and phrase of mouth promote them.

“We were incredibly surprised to realize the audience was there without us having to work too hard to find folks,” Shakman mentioned. “Much like ‘Field of Dreams,’ if you build it, they will come.”

“The Present” “grand finale” is scheduled for Oct. 17. “Inside the Box” formally opened Oct. eight and can run by Jan. 3, 2021.

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