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Theatrescape: Theatre Companies On The Frontlines Of Social Change

By CEEK for Boston Compass (#125)

July 12, 2020

As America searches for rock bottom, some theatre companies are using this unexpected break to address larger issues plaguing both the theatre community and the world, specifically race and gender identity. Theatre has a long history of limited roles for women, people of color and the LBGTQ community and is finally starting to re-evaluate the stories they are telling onstage. In the past few years, there has been progress being made in representation onstage but not nearly enough, and it’s now or never for broader action.

Always on the frontlines is Company One Theatre, who have been changing the look of Boston theatre for over twenty years. They have always championed marginalized voices with work that uses representation as an act of social justice, providing a platform to rarely heard narratives, and supporting artists of color. They are navigating this 2020 hellscape by bringing together the creative community with policymakers for important conversations, one neighborhood at a time, in their Better Future Series online. Check the listings for details on episode 2.

Season by season, more work written by and featuring people of color is being produced. There are newer theater companies like Praxis Stage, who were created to be that change. Then there are old dogs learning new tricks, like the Huntington Theater, who have gone from programming for the white, retired theatre-going crowd to more socially conscious work including playwrights like Lynn Nottage, Kirsten Greenidge, Melinda Lopez and others. ArtsEmerson also has a range of shows featuring artists and cultures from all over the world. But we are still at the beginning and there’s plenty of learning and unlearning that needs to be done.

The listings below are highlights of free online events and performances, spanning from major companies in the world to our own backyard. Be sure to donate to the locals listed if you can.

Tips? Email




An innovative and impressive live show, performed via zoom, and created in the wake of this global pandemic. The audience serves as the jury in a trial by way of interactive polling which helps to provide a sense of urgency and purpose to the viewer. A one-woman show starring Darya Denisova with video and direction by Igor Golyak. This is free but please consider donating $25 or more, if you can.

WHERE: Make your Zoom reservation via

7/15, 5 PM

SpeakEasy Stage Company has coordinated this gathering of 6 leaders from Boston theatre companies and orgs to discuss important problems facing our art scene, including how best to support our youth, and strategies to address our most urgent crises, specifically Black Lives Matter and COVID-19. Sabrina Victor plays moderator and host.

WHERE: Streaming live via SpeakEasy Theatre Company’s Facebook


The Huntington Theatre Company releases the fourth and final installment of their online series of audio plays featuring works by some of Boston's brightest playwrights. Each 5-minute play is set in a future Boston and inspired by the author’s favorite spots or people in the city. Works already released include By the Rude Bridge by Melinda Lopez, Overture by Kate Snodgrass, and McKim by Brenda Withers.

Thru 7/16

Arguably Puccini’s best opera with its iconic, passionate score, La Bohème is a requirement. London’s Royal Opera House is home to some of the best ballet and opera in the world with multiple shows available online at a time from their archives, including ballets Sleeping Beauty (7-24-8/6) and Romeo and Juliet (7/10-7/22) and Faust (7/17-7/29) along with a bunch of radio broadcasts of classic operas like Król Roger (until 7/12), Elektra (7/10-8/2), Tristan and Isolde (7/10-7/27), The Barber of Seville (7/10-8/7)

WHERE: streaming at

Thru 7/16

Straight from London’s West End, Helen McCrory shines in Terence Rattigan’s gripping drama. Subscribe to the National Theatre Live’s YouTube channel to find out the next show streaming for free.


Directed by South African visual artist, filmmaker and director William Kentridge, this production is the most innovative on the MET’s menu this week and streaming free for 24 hours. From Puccini to Philip Glass, the MET has been showcasing one work a day from their archives. Lots of crowd favorites on this week’s schedule including La Traviata (7/14), Mozart’s Le Nozze do Figaro (7/18) and La Boheme (7/19)


Last month, Company One Theatre launched this new live web series with Episode 01 - The Chinatown Imperative. These are candid conversations within specific Boston neighborhoods between artists, community leaders and policy makers in an effort to navigate this global pandemic and discuss how best to fight against white supremacy. This month leaders gather to reevaluate their big plans for Upham’s Corner that were derailed by Covid.

WHERE: Streaming live on all Company One social media platforms. Info at


Get tuned into Apollinaire Theatre Company for details on their summer series of new plays based on local residents from their homebase, Chelsea, MA.

WHERE: Zoom link via

Thru 7/26

A powerful story of loyalty, ambition and betrayal taken to violent heights. Every two weeks, the legendary Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London is streaming a production or two from the past.

WHERE: Shakespeare’s Globe channel on YouTube. Info at


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