EXTENDED: 2020 SafeStart Season continues through October 18 with live, socially-distant performances at the Blackfriars Playhouse

In July, American Shakespeare Center became one of the first not-for-profit companies in North America to produce live theatre for in-person audiences.  With the BlkFrs LIVE streaming premiere of Twelfth Night on August 21, ASC became the first producer in North America to partner with Marquee TV and only the second company worldwide to offer a livestream on the ambitious new digital performing arts platform.

“ASC has initiated a three-ways-to-watch approach to live theater, one that acknowledges the varying comfort levels audiences feel for public events during our COVID-19 pandemic…it’s a vision of what’s possible, in order to keep the lights on and the artists on the boards,” commented reviewer Andrew Walker White in DC Metro Theater Arts. 

On Friday, August 28, ASC will continue to share its SafeStart Season globally when the BlkFrs LIVE broadcast of the captivating masterpiece Othello debuts on Marquee TV at 7:15 PM (EDT). Directed by celebrated Artistic Director Ethan McSweeny, this stunningly relevant production of Shakespeare’s tragedy of racism and jealousy promises to bring audiences to the edge of their seats, no matter where those are. The pay-per-view live event will be streamed in 4-camera cinema-quality, in real time from the stage of the Blackfriars Playhouse.

“ASC confounds expectations by casting the remarkable Jessika Williams as Othello…superb…A story about the triumph of lies over truth, jealousy over love, and the insidious reach of racism,” wrote DC Theatre Scene of the production.

Twelfth Night is currently available for on-demand viewing through September 8. Othello will be available until September 14. Viewers are encouraged to purchase their tickets early. One digital ticket purchase will give the patron unlimited access to that title for its entire run on Marquee TV.

“Our partnership with Marquee TV has brought BlkFrs LIVE to life and allowed us to reach viewers all over the world with our celebrated and anticipated return to live theatre,” says McSweeny, “our first effort saw ASC reach ticket buyers on five continents. This makes the incredible work we’ve put into our SafeStart Season feel worth it. “

ASC SafeStart offers audiences three ways to enjoy performances: BlkFrs LIVE broadcasts on Marquee TV; appropriately socially distanced inside the Blackfriars Playhouse; and outdoors on the lawn of the Blackburn Inn and Conference Center.  The season has been extended into mid-October, but only eight outdoor ‘Shakespeare Under the Stars’ performances remain. Audiences interested in seeing the entire scope of ASC’s SafeStart Season are encouraged to plan their trip to Staunton soon, before the Shenandoah Valley’s famed autumn leaves begin to turn. Patrons can experience the joy of Shakespeare in performance with a picnic on the beautiful lawn of the historic Blackburn Inn and Conference Center if they visit before September 26.

Performances will continue indoors, operating under social distancing and universal masking policies at their home venue, the Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor stage, every Thursday through Sunday through October 18.

“We are committed to providing live theatre for as long as we can safely do it,” says Managing Director Amy Wratchford, “Our ASC SafeStart plans will continue to evolve and grow as we spend more time living and working during this pandemic. We hope fans will join us for a responsible evening at the theatre and that we can bring a little joy to their lives during these tough times.”

The American Shakespeare Center’s detailed approach to re-opening has made the company an industry leader, advising theatres from more than a dozen other states on their reopening practices. The 2020 SafeStart Season has been hailed artistically and logistically as the company has navigated two shows in two separate venues while also maintaining an online portfolio of performance, all under the ASC SafeStart Plan which details the company’s mitigations against the spread of COVID-19. 

Audiences are encouraged to visit American Shakespeare Center in the beautiful micropolitan town of Staunton before October 18, when Othello and Twelfth Night will end their run. Patrons interested in seeing an outdoor performance should come by September 26. Tickets are available on the ASC website or by calling the Box Office at 1-877-MUCH-ADO.

Othello will be live on Marquee TV for one-night-only, August 28 at 7:15 PM (EDT). Tickets can be bought here on the Marquee TV website. Twelfth Night is available for asynchronous viewing.