live-streaming, theater

7 Predictions on How the Theater World Might Change After the Virus

For weeks now we have listened to the news waiting anxiously to hear how many weeks it will be before cities around the United States start to “see the curve flatten”. I took heart a few weeks ago when I heard that New York had announced that Broadway would plan to open again on June 7th. It has now become clear that probably will not happen. In fact, the prediction is that touring groups, regional theaters and community theaters will open long before Broadway. In other words, for the first time ever…WE have the opportunity to set the standards for Broadway. How different will things look? How long will it be before people want to come back? These are questions that are ringing in all of our ears.

Each night I record the latest totals of Covid cases per state. I’m not sure why I do it– other than it will make interesting reading for someone who looks through my journal one day. We are making history after all, right? Every night my husband asks me, “Do you really think people will want to sit next to each other at ballgames, movie theaters or live theater?”

Well, I guess we aren’t out of the woods yet, but we’ve definitely had a lot of hours to think about how we are going to act when we are set free. And, I agree, I think things are going to be different.


Here are 7 predictions:

1. Seating is going to be limited. I don’t think people are going to want to sit next to people they don’t know for a long time to come. I have heard that airplanes are not going to be selling the middle seat. (Thank goodness.) If the airlines aren’t going to plaster us in their seats, I don’t think theaters will either.

Just this week I received an update from the company that runs our on-line ticketing. They are working on software that automatically blocks out the seats around a group of seats that are purchased. Now….how do I figure out the percentage of tickets sold so I can quote the accurate numbers to apply for royalties??? New problems….

2. Online sales will dominate. During this crisis I continue to hear people say that, “Money is dirty.” Businesses have offered to have payment options so that people don’t have to exchange money. I think theaters are going to want to protect their employees by only having payment options that don’t require the handling of money. That includes concession time. Perhaps pre-ordering your snacks so that people will not have to stand in line next to each other? Which actually might be a very nice courtesy to offer patrons. What is your average time standing in line at intermission??

Will that change anything for the industry overall? People have been purchasing tickets on line for years. In the long run we will have to juggle the credit card and service fees that go along with it. Have you noticed that some companies charge over $20 in fees???

3. Real Estate is going to be more affordable. Now this is exciting. With all the companies that have had to figure out how to work remotely…I think a lot of buildings are going to become unnecessary which leaves them open for theater space! Before this crisis, there wasn’t enough of it or it was too expensive. Maybe that is something positive to explore.

4. Live streaming is going to be a very real possibility. Man, there is just nothing like watching a live show, but if you can’t find a way to attend then seeing that live stream is for sure a second best. I can’t wait to see how this continues to develop.

5. Theaters are going to be more flexible about the ability to change tickets. Perhaps we will send out instructions with the ticket order on how to exchange tickets if the customer doesn’t feel well. Along with that, perhaps the theater will take temperatures before the customer is allowed into the theater. It will be all about making sure that the audience member feels like we have their safety in mind.

6. Limited seating will be available. I’m not sure how long social distancing will be in place or how long it will take for us to be comfortable sitting next to someone we don’t know. So, theaters will limit the amount of seats that will be available for performances. This will give everyone ample room to spread out and not come in close contact. Perhaps ushers will dismiss people row by row as well. It will all be about how we can limited the contact of the audience. Perhaps we could also have certain performances that were strictly for those at higher risk? Limiting the number of seats even more.

7. Theater will come back. We need it. We have survived wars and TV and Netflix and I believe people will be craving the community that is theater. I’m not sure how long it will all take. We might all have to rebuild. But we will be there for you when you are ready to come back!

Do you remember the first live performance you ever saw? I do! I remember how I felt when I heard the orchestra begin to tune. I remember the energy of the audience and how I felt when each cast member appeared. I cannot wait to sit in an audience and feel all the feels again. Will you be there with me?

I’d love to hear what you think of these idea and if you have others! Please take a moment to like, share, comment and follow!

Until next time!









artistic vision, audience, broadway, dramaturgy, entertainment, intern, theater, theater education, theater professions

Meet Guest Blogger–Nathan Pittack

Featured Post

The Chameleons of the Theatre (what they do and why they matter)

I am so thrilled to introduce Nathan to all of you. Some of you may remember Nathan from a few year’s ago when we had the honor of having him at Overshadowed just for a few weeks before he returned home to get married. He made a lasting impression on us in just that short amount of time and I can’t wait for you to get to know his heart in this blog! Enjoy!

When Reba asked me if I would be a guest author on her blog, I must admit I felt both honored and nervous—happy to reconnect with Overshadowed, but also a tad afraid of the topic. She asked me a seemingly simple question: “What is a dramaturg?” 

But the truth is there’s no official, textbook definition. The role can vary from show to show, company to company. Not to mention dramaturgs are often overlooked in America. But one thing is for sure—dramaturgs are the chameleons of the theatre. When involved, they enrich every single aspect of a production, even though their specific influence may be hard to define. In short, they are Content and Context experts. Their main responsibility? To ask 3 questions about every play they work on. And to answer them as thoroughly and collaboratively as possible.

Question 1: Why Then?

“How much is a guinea worth?”
“Where did swing music come from?” 
“What were French fashions in 1834?” 
“What does this Shakespearean monologue mean, anyway? Can I cut it?” 
“Why was it like that back Then?”

Dramaturgs are tasked with answering countless historical questions for designers, directors, and actors alike. Mercifully, they usually join a production before any other member of the team (unless a playwright is involved). This gives them time to gather a wealth of information to share before any acting, design, and directorial choices are made. These findings are gathered into one large document called the Actor’s Packet. Typically, production team members get a copy during preliminary meetings, and actors receive it on the first night of rehearsal.Now you may be thinking: “Don’t the cast and crew do their own research?” And the answer is yes, they do (or should!). But by doing a lot of research ahead of time, dramaturgs help save them hours of work. But even more importantly is how dramaturgs offer insight into questions that aren’t quite so easily answered with a Google search:

“What’s with the scrims in The Glass Menagerie?”
“Why is Arthur Miller obsessed with Greek theatre structure?”
“How did religion shape Shakespeare’s plays and characters?”

These are questions of culture—specifically the aesthetics of the playwrights themselves and the societies they lived in. And unfortunately too many productions skip right on by these. 

“But why is that a problem?” you may ask. Well, think of it this way: Plays, like any art form, are created in response to something—personal, political, societal, you name it. And so if we divorce ourselves from the original context of the play—and the reason it was written—we not only fail to understand the message itself, but fail to know how to translate it to a modern-day world. 

Dramaturgs help us make this connection. Which leads me to Question 2.

Question 2: Why Now?

A dramaturg’s job doesn’t end with the Actor’s Packet. He’s not just handing out a bunch of historical facts and aesthetic recommendations–then walking away hoping it’s all done properly.  

No—the dramaturg is an active on-going presence throughout the rehearsal process. Serving as the confidant to the director, the dramaturg keeps this question in sight at all times: 

“Why this play Now?”

In other words, 
“What is its significance today?”

Or—if it’s a new play—
“Why is it worth the risk to support this playwright and produce it?”

Dramaturgs keep the team focused on answering these “Now” questions in several ways. 

First of all, they champion the play itself. If it’s an established script, they make sure that its original context isn’t lost—or worse, misrepresented for the sake of “innovation”—during the production’s process. To do this, they facilitate meaningful discussion and interpretation of the play, including modern-day applications. 

If it’s a new play, dramaturgs work with the playwright directly—consulting them on potential adjustments, maintaining the script’s integrity, and ensuring the play’s present-day message isn’t muddled. Because if it is, then the theatre has lost the reason they took the risk to produce it!

Second, by focusing on “Why this play now?”, the dramaturg reminds the team of why they chose to do this play in the first place. For instance, let’s say the director shared a brilliant vision for the play at the table read. A couple weeks in, the dramaturg asks:

“Is this vision being realized?”
“Are acting and design choices in line with these directorial goals? With the text itself?” 
“Based on how rehearsals are going, will the audience receive the intended message?”

( a shot of the departmental statement Nathan wrote for a recent production)

Dramaturgs help directors keep the original vision intact, and they serve as sounding boards for the thousands of decisions that come directors’ ways. While directors may feel they’re making one isolated choice after another, dramaturgs are there to point out how each choice influences the overall vision—and ultimately, how the audience will experience the play. Which leads into Question 3.

Question 3: Why Here?

This question is critical. 

Why is this theatre doing this play in this community?

And unfortunately many theatres don’t even think to ask it.

But a dramaturg has it on their radar long before a script is selected in the first place. In fact, theatres with resident dramaturgs often task them with sourcing play options for their seasons. And there are two crucial reasons why.

First, we know any established theatre ought to have a clear and distinct identity and mission. We should be able to say, “Oh yeah, that theatre is known for [family/edgy/comedy/etc.] shows.” And so when a theatre company is looking to pull together a cohesive season, dramaturgs go to work to find plays that fit the theatre’s niche, and even specific themes if desired. A lot of times this is how new playwrights are discovered—dramaturgs are dear friends of new works!

But it’s not enough to know why the theatre is doing the play.

Secondly, a dramaturg helps determine why a specific community needs this play. Let’s say you’re a comedy-oriented theatre and you want to do a production of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park—a funny play about a newlywed couple in New York City. But there’s a catch: you’re located in southern Mississippi surrounded by an older community of blue collar workers. The play may fit your niche, but it doesn’t serve your audience demographic. 

This audience-centered thinking is the bread and butter of the dramaturg. If a play’s appeal doesn’t extend beyond the theatre company itself—if it’s not a gift to the larger community, speaking to them in specific ways—then the dramaturg should rightfully ask:

Why are we doing it at all?” 

But—when a play is chosen that does meet the theatre’s niche as well as its surrounding community, dramaturgs are in their happy place. In fact, this is personally my favorite aspect of dramaturgy and why I am so passionate about it. Because the dramaturg now gets to create meaning that extends beyond the production itself.

Through presentations to cast and crew, dramaturgs get to express why this play matters to the outside world—the one right outside their door! And by creating lobby displays, program notes, and talkback sessions, dramaturgs show audiences that this production speaks to their lives and experiences right now, right here. 

It’s a gift. And it’s personal. 

When you choose a play for a specific audience, a specific community, you’re saying:

 “I see you. I hear you. I know what you value—what speaks to your soul.”  

And sometimes even:

I know this one will be hard for you; but I think you need it—it’ll help you grow.” 

Dramaturgs search for plays that serve their audience. And I kind of think that looks like Jesus.

So to sum up a post longer than I intended, dramaturgs are a vital part of the theatre. Because their three questions—why then? why now? why here?—all answer one ultimate question: 

Why it matters

If we fail to answer that, then we’ve failed to give a gift. And if we fail to give a gift, then we’ve failed to make art. 

May we as Christians always be gift-givers.

Selected Resource: 

Ghost Light: An Introductory Handbook for Dramaturgy by Michael Mark Chemers

You can follow Nathan @nathan_pittack or contact him at nathanpittack@icloud.com

As always, we’d love to hear your comments! And we’d love it if you’d take a moment to like us and share this blog!

Until next time!

anne frank, book revi, book review, reading, theater, titanic, WWII

One Book Can Change the World

“Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.–Alberto Manguel

At the beginning of 2020 I read page after page of posts on Facebook from friends who beautifully recapped all the books they read during 2019. I was ashamed, informed, entertained and inspired. You see? I love to read, but somehow I’ve gotten out of the habit. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but after reading post after post I decided that the bad habit needed to be broken and I resolved to read at least one book a month during 2020.

I started off great during January and February, but as I was working on “Trip to Bountiful.” reading became a huge luxury because I needed to spend so much time on my lines. I vowed that I would still get back to reading. I just needed to make sure my lines were firmly embedded in my brain before moving on.

Then, our world stopped and reading…well, reading became everything. I must admit, I spent the first part of quarantine reading about the virus and the dangers and all the theories behind it, but slowly I pulled my head away from that and decided I wanted to be entertained instead.

Why is it that some of us love to read and others make ourselves read and still others don’t do it at all? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that subject because I’m not sure I know the answer and I’d love to hear theories.

For now, I’d like to share my January-March reading experience with you.

I had the honor of being in a production of The Diary of Anne Frank last year. I actually started this book at that time, but just couldn’t fight way my through it. I finished it this year. I’m not sure I could have picked a better book to begin my new journey with books.

BY Anne Frank

Do you know the story? It is the real life account of a young girl during WWII. Anne’s father, Otto, has the forsite to prepare a place for his family and one other to hide from the Germans. Anne faithfully writes in her diary the day-to-day activities during their time in hiding. She was thirteen when she began detailing her accounts. Most of us think of reading this book for school, but I think I learned even more reading it as an adult. I’m inspired at Anne’s intelligence and how prolifically she writes. Was it because she was trapped with adults for such a long time or has the world been robbed of a bright mind that would have given us such immeasurable greatness? When Overshadowed produced this play last year, we talked about living in cramped spaces with people who would grow to get on our nerves. We talked about eating the same things over and over and the idea of not being about to go outside and how that would feel. We talked about the fear of the unknown and dependance on others…..who knew that we would be experiencing a little of the same things? It makes me so thankful for what we DO have. Freedom at the top of the list.

Favorite quote:

As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?–Anne Frank

This book is available at Amazon! There are also other books that you might be interested in. Some of them are also in the photo above.

In February I read –The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor. https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Came-Home-Titanic/dp/0062316869

I loved this book! I am a fan of all things Titanic and this story about fourteen members of a small village in Ireland who journey towards America is captivating. We instantly love, Maggie, who is torn as she heads to a future that must be better, but ache for her as she leaves her true love behind. The story blends the past with the present as we meet Grace Butler who struggles to find focus on the future until her great-grandmother decides it is time to tell the story of….The Titanic.

This story is inspired by true events and the blending of history, fact and fiction reminded me of so many tragic decisions involved in the sinking of that great ship that changed the world forever.

Favorite Quote:

That night when Titanic went down was so terrible that some survivors, like me, wanted to stop talking about it. I suppose people move on, history moves on, and there will, sadly, always be something more terrible waiting around the corner.--Maggie

Why is that my favorite? Because it reminds us to talk, because stories teach. And it reminds us that life has wonderful times and terrible ones. We need to find the good in all of them.

In March I read News of Our Loved Ones by Abigail DeWitt https://www.amazon.com/News-Our-Loved-Ones-Novel/dp/0062834746/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

This one was a struggle to read. In fact, I had to make myself read a chapter a day to get finished with it. I found the disjointed way that she introduced her characters hard to follow. I continually went back and reread portions to see if I had missed something. It finally all came together in the end, but that’s too long to wait for the story to make sense. It also touched upon being very inappropriate at times. She didn’t go into detail, but it just made me feel uncomfortable and I don’t want to feel that way when I read!

By the way, I do NOT receive anything for the recommendation of these books. This is just me…sharing things with you!

I’m not sure why I chose these three books for the beginning of this year. They all involved very deep topics and all three brought me to tears at times. My title for this blog was One Book Can Change the World. I truely believe it can. I think The Diary of a Young Girl did that. What books have your read that changed you or the world? Or…should you write one?

During this time of darkness….why not pick up a book and read!

Please take a moment to like and share this! And please let me know about books you have read!

Until next time,

entertainment, family, theater

MEET GUEST BLOGGER–JESSICA MEANS

Meet Jessica Means–Guest Blogger

Featured Post

When God Calls–God Equips

I am honored to have guest blogger, actress, teacher, mom, wife and friend join us this week. From the moment I met Jessica I was astonished by her spirit, wisdom, talent and enthusiasm. Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your thoughts this week!

When I was asked to be a guest blogger for Reba, I had two questions:
Number One: What do I write about?
Number Two: Why would anyone care?

I get why Reba has a blog and people want to read it; she is President and Artistic Director for a theatre company that she founded! She started something from the ground up and took a huge risk. How cool is that!? If people need to learn from someone it is Reba.

So, what do I do? I teach high school, direct theatre, am a mom, and perform on the side for my personal sanity. But then I began thinking, I really do not just perform on the side. Over this past year I have taken a step to become more active offstage, which is in turn helping me better onstage.

The answer to the first question then came to me: What do I write about?

Where God calls, God equips. I am not going to take personal credit for this statement, as it was in my sermon notes from last month. However, it rings true with my connection with Overshadowed Theatrical Productions.

Over three years ago I performed with Overshadowed for the first time in the musical Mary Poppins. Before that I had been performing in musicals for years upon years with other local theatre companies. I did notice that Overshadowed was different. The people were a community, all people. I saw that the crew worked like a well-oiled machine. I was impressed by the professionalism of the company, but I was just a performer, so I did my job, finished the run, and continued working with other companies.

I did not get involved with Overshadowed until the spring season of last year. Involved meaning I jumped into serving. Last spring season, during the production of Seussical, I was asked to join the Gala Committee and I said I would help wherever I was needed. Silly me…of course that was the silent auction. (Who wants to ask people for donations?)

Fast-forward to late July and my afternoon date with Breana Akerberg. She showed me the ropes on how to ask for donations. (If you do not know already, Breana is a Rockstar at accomplishing goals!) At first, I was timid to walk into a business and do “the ask”. But with Breana’s help by the end of the afternoon we had great success (and ended our gala work with a mini smoothie date). That afternoon I gained the confidence I needed and a new friend.

You will never get anywhere if you do not ask (although it is not always comfortable at first). In the end, it was work, but rewarding work. I knew I was serving an important cause. And honestly, seeing the gala’s silent auction room last October I felt so proud that I had played a part in that (especially when I found out the amount raised for Overshadowed!). Laura Benanti said in a podcast interview on the Theater People that theatre “bonds you quickly” because together you are “working towards the same goal”. I think this is true onstage, but also true offstage and in life.

When we work together it bonds us, especially when we can enjoy the fruits of our labor with others.

During the course of a year, I began to take on more tasks for Overshadowed from seam ripping (not a costumer), assisting with makeup, writing news sources to market shows, and eventually overseeing Overshadowed’s social media. I am also now heading up the silent auction subcommittee if anyone wants to make a donation. (See what I did there?) However, I am taking initiative and asking if I can assist where I see a need. People are not always going ask, because much like my adventure with Breana, I was nervous to ask. People are afraid to burden others. So, if you see a need that you can fill, put out an offer.

Where am I going with this? I am a performer. I could just be an actress. I don’t have to volunteer in other capacities. But Overshadowed is theatre with a difference. I serve Overshadowed, because I am called. I am equipped. I am needed. Serving for Overshadowed makes me better and it makes Overshadowed better.

This past Christmas I had the absolute honor to perform in Overshadowed’s winter production of Holiday Inn. By that time, I had immersed myself in the culture and community of Overshadowed. Performing each night was more than just singing, dancing, and acting in a show like it had three years ago in Mary Poppins. I was now bonded to not only the cast, but the crew, and all of the volunteers. When we finished each performance the greatest compliment, I heard from the audience was that there was not a single weak link, even down to the scene changes, lighting, and sounds cues. Holiday Inn was a well-oiled machine, because everyone had invested their time and served during that production. Even more amazing, almost every member of the production has now volunteered their time offstage in the two productions following Holiday Inn by running sound cues, assisting in hair and makeup, as running crew backstage, painting and building sets, or ushering.

Now, to answer the second question: Why would anyone care?

Overshadowed is more than a theatre company; it is a ministry. Overshadowed needs volunteers. But best of all, when we volunteer, we work together on a common goal bonding people together.

If you are called but are unsure where to start, reach out, because there is always something small (remember I first started ripping seams?) and God will equip you along the journey. As you grow in your service you will see Overshadowed grow in strength, the community grow in faith, the audience grow in spirit, and your heart will be full.

Since truly getting involved with Overshadowed Theatrical Productions I have continued to perform, but the experience is vastly different than my first time on the Overshadowed stage. I am a part of the well-oiled machine that I observed during Mary Poppins. In January when I announced on Facebook that I was working on a new project, The Trip to Bountiful, a fellow Chicagoland actor commented on my post saying, “It looks like you found your theatre home”. I laughed and showed Reba. She smiled at me and said, “Yep, it is!” Overshadowed has become a home for me, because I have allowed myself to listen to the call of service and the fruits of my labor are even more rewarding.


If you are called to serve, be it a school, church, community service, or a ministry, I pray that you answer the call and take the initiative to fill the need.

The work will reap rewards.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts or comments. Please take a moment to follow us so you don’t ever miss a post!

Until next time,