What do you do when your mission is to bring people together to experience new theatrical works – and you’re not allowed to be “together” anymore?
You do what Know Theatre of Cincinnati has been doing for 22 seasons – you adapt, you innovate, and you figure out how you can connect your community, no matter what the challenge.
The Know Theatre Team recognizes we are all in uncharted waters as we figure out how to keep the essence of the live theatre experience truly alive during a pandemic event.
We affirm that this is the time to stick to the principles we hold most dear, and for us, that is that our purpose is to create works of art that are both cutting-edge and accessible. The current public health crisis has given us an opportunity to combine those qualities, and we seek to be on the furthest edge of making art accessible to people in quarantine and isolation as well as those practicing social distancing.
Inspired by our origins as a nomadic band of artists that brought experimental live theatre directly into communities, we’re turning to the digital space to bring the intimate experience of Know shows directly to your homes.
Building on the model of our Know-to-Go educational programming, which creates theatre for young audiences and visits schools, libraries, and community centers across the Tri-State Area, we’re now utilizing technology to bring works to audiences from a safe and healthy distance.
Today, we roll out our brand-new extension of Know-to-Go, a collection of inspired theatrical programming for trying times, designed to showcase new and unexpected voices and full of the Know’s signature theatricality – all via the power of streaming video.
Part 1: The Stream Team
The Know has been experimenting with livestreaming episodes of our Monday night competitive theatre party Serials! on Facebook Live for the last six seasons. Now, with Know-to-Go: The Stream Team, we’re stepping up that game in a big way.
From the MainStage: Alabaster
We were deeply saddened to have to cut short our National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of the Pulitzer-nominated darkly comic Southern drama, Alabaster, by Audrey Cefaly, due to concerns over the public health crisis.
But thanks to the round-the-clock efforts of Producing Artistic Director Andrew J. Hungerford to secure appropriate rights and permissions, we are able to bring the production back digitally for one more week! Alabaster will be available to stream to audiences for a limited time, thanks to a partnership with Actors’ Equity Association.
People who already held tickets for cancelled performances of Alabaster will receive access to the video once it’s available. As per our agreement with Actors’ Equity, the remaining tickets to each cancelled performance will be made available as access to the digital recording for $15 each.
Because paying a living wage is a priority at the Know, viewers will also be able to choose the living wage ticket price of $25, to help us keep artists paid. And since the flip side of the monetary coin is economic accessibility for audiences, we’ll be making 50 streaming passes available for $5 as part of our Welcome Experiment.
The streaming video will be available at the end of this week, and will be viewable through April 4.
From the Archives
We’ll be offering several shows from Know Theatre’s archive for rental through video on demand at $10 each!
We’ll be rolling out titles beginning this week, starting with 2015’s Andy’s House of [blank] by Paul Strickland & Trey Tatum, and 2016’s Darkest Night at the Gnarly Stump by Lauren Hynek & Elizabeth Martin with songs by Paul Strickland. It feels fitting to begin our streaming library with these two titles that came to life thanks to the Know’s ethos of experimentation.
The quirky and endearing time-traveling musical Andy’s House of [blank] began life in our episodic-competitive theatre event Serials! Thunderdome. A collaboration between artists Paul Strickland, Erika Kate MacDonald, Trey Tatum, and Bridget Leak, Andy’s House of [blank] was such an amazing, audacious creation from its very genesis that the Know worked with its creators to develop into a MainStage production that had its premiere in 2015.
Darkest Night at the Gnarly Stump was an original Appalachian ghost-story folk musical, commissioned by the Know and premiered in 2016. Its book was written by Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek (who also co-wrote the live-action film Mulan (2020)) with original songs by Paul Strickland.
More shows from the Know’s archive will be coming to our streaming platform pending the finalizing of rights agreements. Stay tuned for more announcements as they roll out!
Part 2: Audio Theatre
We’re working with local playwrights to create brand-new audio works available for audiences everywhere. They’ll be available for purchase through our website. As so many local artists found themselves abruptly out of planned work when performing arts events through the city shut down in mid-March, this provides work for these out-of-work performers while creating exciting, brand-new content for the audiences who are missing their usual arts experiences. Further details on the upcoming audio dramas will be released soon.
We’ll be kicking the series off with a release of an Audio Version of Producing Artistic Director Andrew J. Hungerford’s play, Of People and Not Things, seen at the Cincinnati and Edinburgh Fringes in 2010. (“A new and thrilling piece of Fringe theatre” – **** British Theatre Guide. “This piece of theater will stick with you because it’s so human” – Rick Pender, CityBeat.) This never-before-released audio recording was made in 2011, just after the show’s run at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Part 3: Roll Models
The Know will be using video streaming to roll out (oh yes, that pun was fully intended) its designed-for-performance tabletop role-playing-game experience! The brainchild of Know’s Managing Director Jackson Short, Roll Models will feature stories crafted by local playwrights, featuring characters performed by local actors, in role-playing experiences led by experienced game masters. Our intrepid tabletop adventurers will tell their stories in livestreamed installments while audiences are encouraged to support the action through a virtual “tip jar,” which again supports the participating freelance artists who unexpectedly found themselves facing cancelled jobs.
All revenue created by Know-to-Go digital programs will be split 50/50 between the theatre and the artists, so that our staff and artistic community can all weather this storm together.
While the staff of the Know is currently busy like a hive of socially-distanced bees to make this theatrical-magic-from-afar happen, we have even more ideas developing and announcements forthcoming. Join us as we journey into uncharted theatrical waters, and keep your ears open for what’s coming up next!
By The Numbers
Alabaster, by Audry Cefaly, $15 tickets available now through March 21. Streaming March 18 – April 4.
Andy’s House of [blank], by Paul Strickland and Trey Tatum, $10 on-demand rental. Streaming beginning March 20.
Darkest Night at the Gnarly Stump, book by Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek, songs by Paul Strickland, $10 on-demand rental. Streaming coming soon.