Theater to Stream: ‘Hamlet’ and a Tracy Letts Triptych


Festivals, adaptations of literary classics and a Pulitzer Prize-winner by Quiara Alegría Hudes are among the highlights this fall.

A still from the Steppenwolf Theater’s virtual production of “The Old Country,” part of a trio of short works by Tracy Letts.
A still from the Steppenwolf Theater’s virtual production of “The Old Country,” part of a trio of short works by Tracy Letts.Credit...Sarah Hahm

One of the fall’s hottest theater tickets is in London. But audiences elsewhere will have a chance to check out the show without boarding a plane, or even leaving their couches.

As part of its Best Seat in Your House initiative, the Young Vic will livestream four performances of Greg Hersov’s in-person production of “Hamlet,” starring Cush Jumbo in the title role. Fans of the series “Line of Duty” will be happy to see Adrian Dunbar — the Gaffer! — as Claudius. Oct. 28-30; youngvic.org.

This type of undertaking isn’t alone as more and more performances — and live audiences — return indoors. Streaming continues to make many shows accessible beyond any one theater; here are some coming soon.

Movies — even unlikely ones (hello, “King Kong”) — regularly make the jump to the stage, but adaptations of TV shows are rarer. Many tend to involve re-enactments of specific episodes in more or less authorized parodies, with “The Addams Family” being a notorious exception. Neither a tribute nor a musical, this might be something new: a theater spinoff of a long-running television hit. It is by the series’ creator, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, and is set around the 2020 election. Oct. 15-24; theatre2.org.

The East West Players, based in Los Angeles, have been presenting Asian American and Pacific Islander experiences onstage since 1965. For Lavina Jadhwani’s ambitious new project, the company has teamed up with EnActe Arts in San Francisco and Hypokrit Productions in New York. The tripartite show, directed by Reena Dutt, takes a fresh look at the Hindu epic “The Ramayana” by centering it on the character of Sita, who marries the god Rama. Sept. 25-Oct. 17; eastwestplayers.org.

One of the most bizarre online theatrical experiences of 2020 was a party held in spreadsheets during the Corkscrew 4.0 Festival. Now more people will get a chance to be perplexed, delighted or both, as they try to navigate Ruth Tang and Sarah Blush’s bonkers project, this time presented by the reliably thought-provoking theater incubator New Georges. The show is interactive, though it’s very easy to simply be a wallflower, and perhaps you will be better than I was at figuring out what to do. (Turns out one can be as inept navigating a virtual party as an in-person one.) Sept. 17-20; newgeorges.org.

Six Los Angeles institutions have joined forces to present this Latino theater festival: the Latino Theater Company; East Los Angeles College; Company of Angels; Teatro Luna West; Casa 0101 Theater/Chicanas, Cholas y Chisme; and A Place Called Home Theater. Performances come with Spanish subtitles, and among the intriguing offerings is a selection of excerpts from John Leguizamo monologues: How will they fare without Leguizamo’s huge personality to propel them? Sept. 16-25; apch.org.

Fringe festivals might be best experienced online. It’s easier to take chances on random shows because if they’re terrible, it’s less conspicuous to run for the digital exit. This year’s edition of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival is both in-person and virtual, with such offerings as the interactive “Saving Wonderland,” which revisits Lewis Carroll via gaming technology. Through Oct. 4; fringearts.com.

And in Australia, Melbourne is in lockdown, but its fringe festival is forging ahead online. You may want to have a look at “Lockdown Love Stories,” about dating during a pandemic (which is just about as surefire as putting on a theater festival), and “Body Horror,” inspired by 1970s and ’80s scare flicks. Sept. 30- Oct. 17; melbournefringe.com.au.

The Steppenwolf trio, from left: Rainn Wilson, Tracy Letts and a puppet voiced by William Petersen.Credit...via Steppenwolf Theater

The playwright, actor and Steppenwolf Theater member is giving back to that esteemed company with three short online pieces. Rainn Wilson performs the monologue “Night Safari”; William Petersen (yes, that William Petersen, the “CSI” star, who first appeared in a Steppenwolf show in 1980) and Karen Rodriguez star in “The Old Country”; and Letts himself drives “The Stretch.” And if you happen to be in Chicago in November or December, Letts’s wife, Carrie Coon, stars in a revival of his psycho-thriller “Bug” under David Cromer’s direction. Sept. 29-Oct. 24; steppenwolf.org.

The Irish Repertory Theater in New York presents the 2017 musical adaptation of Frank McCourt’s best-selling memoir “Angela’s Ashes” — which puts Frank’s mother, the title character (played by Jacinta Whyte), front and center. The score is by Adam Howell. Thursday through Sept. 22; irishrep.org.

In Connecticut, the Westport Country Playhouse continues to mine its vault of archived captures. Next up: its production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” directed in 2008 by Mark Lamos (stepping in for an ailing Paul Newman). The New York Times review praised the show for a “vitality and sensuality that remind us that every life is touched by loneliness and failure.” Sept. 13-26; westportplayhouse.org.

And in a completely different register — we hope! — comes the new musical “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” with music and lyrics by John Robinson. The show, filmed this summer, is based on D.H. Lawrence’s boundary-breaking novel of the same name. Privately published in 1928, the book, about an upper-class woman’s affair with her gamekeeper, went to trial for obscenity in Britain in 1960, when an unexpurgated version finally came out there. Perhaps Georgia Lennon and Michael Pickering, as the illicit lovers, will generate enough steam to fog up a few glasses. Oct. 15-Nov. 21; stream.theatre.

Celeste Den, left, and Bruce A. Young in “Water by the Spoonful.”Credit...Jenny Graham

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is presenting its staging of Quiara Alegría Hudes’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, in which a veteran from the Iraq war struggles to adapt to life when he returns to Philadelphia. Some scenes take place in online chat rooms, a storytelling device many viewers likely will experience differently now from when the play first surfaced, about a decade ago. Through Sept. 25; osfashland.org.

Lawrence Stallings in “Me and the Devil.”Credit...Mark Garvin

The Lantern Theater Company in Philadelphia is sticking with its streaming guns this fall, offering two promising online shows. The first is the premiere of this play with music by Steve H. Broadnax III and Charles Dumas, about the blues musician Robert Johnson (Lawrence Stallings). Broadnax, who is making his Broadway debut with “Thoughts of a Colored Man” this fall, also directs (Thursday through Oct. 17). Then Lantern segues into Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of the Albert Camus novel “The Plague,” an allegory about the rise of fascism using an epidemic that hits a certain bull’s-eye in 2021. (Oct. 7-Nov. 7). lanterntheater.org.