WETA Arts: May 2021
This month: Go inside the Capitol as Curator of the Architect of the Capitol Dr. Michele Cohen describes efforts to restore damaged art; award-winning playwright-director-actor Psalmayene 24 creates The Freewheelin’ Insurgents, a film that channels Black Lives Matter activism into his love of the local theater scene; see a bureaucrat-by-day, drag queen-by-night compete to lead a local philanthropic LGBTQ+ organization in Josh Davidsburg’s documentary Queen of the Capital; and host Felicia Curry speaks with Julie Kent, artistic director of The Washington Ballet, about adapting dance to the pandemic.
Featured on Around Town: Streaming Edition
Virtual Museums: Virtual tours through museum websites have made it possible for you to explore both the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in D.C. and the Louvre in France on the same day! You can also tour the world of art through the many museum galleries in Google Arts & Culture, such as the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico, the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery in London, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) in Brazil, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea, and more. Alternatively, turn your living room into a famous gallery with the Art Projector from the Google Arts and Culture App! By simply pointing your smartphone camera at a blank wall, the app will digitally impose your choice of famous artwork in its true-to-life dimensions.
Online Galleries: Many galleries are making their artwork available for you to access at home. Check out SLAYSIAN, a free digital exhibit showcasing Asian American artists from Chicago and the Midwest. Also head to the NYC’s El Museo del Barrio’s website for EL MUSEO EN TU CASA, a project highlighting past artist interviews and permanent collections. If you’re looking for a more immersive experience, don’t miss mesmerizing virtual reality exhibits like Artland and the Kremer Museum! DC-based artist Mark Kelner has created the Virtual Art Project, in which graphic designers and artists can submit posters that respond directly to challenges set by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Street Art: Being indoors doesn’t mean you can’t access the wonders of street art. If you’re in search of some of Banksy’s murals, check out this list of how to find some of them through Google Street View. And if you’re looking for some DC street art, check out Murals DC, a project featuring over 80 artworks located around the city.
Art Activities: If you’re looking for inspiration, try downloading an Artist Activity Pack from Firstsite’s “Art is where the home is” initiative, featuring contributions from prominent UK artists. These packs require no special materials, and are free to download.
Coloring Sheets: If you’re looking for a new hobby, why not try coloring? Local DC artist Carlos Carmonamedina has released a series of free coloring pages for the DC Is My City project, featuring scenes from Columbia Heights, Takoma Park, Washington Circle, and more.
Artist Performances: Even without packed stadiums, major artists are finding creative ways to perform for their fans during quarantine. For even more virtual performances, NPR’s Tiny Desk, the Kennedy Center’s Couch Concerts, or 92nd Street Y’s online concerts. And if you’re still searching for your favorite artists’ live performances, check out Billboard’s website for an ongoing list of artists performing on their own social media accounts.
Local Performances: In 2020, DC’s own 9:30 Club celebrated its fortieth anniversary. NPR has put together a comprehensive list of past live-streamed concerts dating back to 2005. These audio—and in later years, video— recordings include performances by Bright Eyes, Wilco, Bon Iver, The National, and more!
Open Mic Nights: Busboys and Poets is carrying on with their open mic nights through their Instagram page! Tune to Busboys on Live! (or sign up yourself!) for poetry slams, music performances, and much more every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday around 8 PM EDT.
Concerts: Have a few hours to spare? Opera fans can now watch dozens of full-length performances with OperaVision. The platform offers a diverse array of productions from 17 different countries, all free for streaming. The Metropolitan Opera is launching “Nightly Met Opera Streams,” making one of their best performances of the past fourteen years available for streaming on a daily basis. For more online orchestras, check out past performances from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic!
Musical Conversations: Renowned opera singer and arts & health advocate Renée Fleming hosted a series of webinars entitled Music and Mind Live with Renée Fleming, in which she discusses how to use the power of music for health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stream all episodes through the Kennedy Center website.
Theater from Home
Broadway: If you’re missing the Broadway stage, don’t panic—BroadwayHD offers a 7-day free trial for you to stream all of their professionally-recorded shows from your laptop.
Script Readings: The new live-streaming theatre platform Play-Per-View is offering a series of script readings over Zoom, all performed by notable names of the stage and screen. Virtual tickets start at $5, and all proceeds will go towards supporting arts organizations affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The historical Ford’s Theatre is also hosting virtual play readings while their live performances are on hold. If you can’t watch it live on Ford’s Facebook or YouTube, the performance will be archived to watch at your convenience.
Live Monologues: If you’re in the mood for some never-before-seen content, The 24 Hour Plays’ Viral Monologues series may be your cup of tea: twenty different writers pair up with twenty different actors to write, rehearse, and perform a dramatic monologue, all within 24 hours.
Ballet Classes: If you’re looking for ways to stay active, The Washington Ballet now has live and on-demand classes for adult dancers of all skill levels, and Philadelphia’s contemporary ballet group DanceX is offering for fitness and ballet classes for all ages on Instagram Live.
Theater Challenge: Manhattan Theatre Club is inviting teen theatre enthusiasts to write and perform a one-minute monologue responding to the prompt “You have no idea…”. Select entries are posted on MTC’s Facebook and YouTube pages every Thursday at noon.
Art: Artists everywhere have taken this indoor time to share their secrets and help you create art of your own. Artist Trisha Zemp is teaching kids the basics of stop motion animation with her Stop Motion Kids Camp! Just enroll online and get access to a series of fun instructional videos. Check out illustrator Wendy MacNaughton’s #drawtogether, 20-minute art classes for kids every weekday around 10 AM EDT available on her Instagram.
Music: For professional performances and diverse musical perspectives, check out Lincoln Center’s #ConcertsForKids series! In addition to the large collection already available on their website, new concerts are released every Wednesday at 4:00 pm EDT and Sunday at 11:00 am EDT. For more musical fun, check out the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Kids Corner for educational activities and games, and Chrome Music Lab for interactive musical experiments with rhythm, soundwaves, and more!
Theater: Produce a play in your living room with the Play at Home project! The Kennedy Center has commissioned ten playwrights from across the country to write a short, kid-friendly play or musical for families to download and perform at home. Broadway Babysitters Playhouse is hosting virtual creativity courses for any Broadway star-in-training to enjoy at home. For more theater classes for kids, head over to Lincoln Center’s Pop-Up Classroom series. Classes are all led by top creatives in the world of theater and dance, and topics include everything from shadow puppet tutorials to line dancing. Watch new classes live on Facebook, or watch any past episode on-demand.
And More: After the Chicago Public Library was forced to close all of its branches, they enlisted the help of select librarians and notable Chicagoans to host virtual readings for young children and their families. Past guests include former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama! Check out their Facebook for new episodes weekdays at 10 am EDT. If you really want to take bedtime stories out of this world, make sure to check out NASA’s Story Time from Space series, where you can listen to real astronauts read fun and educational children’s books from the International Space Station. For as long as schools are closed, kids everywhere can listen to free audiobooks from Audible’s vast collection. Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan, seeking a new hobby, or want to dive into a classic, Audible has the audiobook for you!