Town Crier Report
Pear Theatre’s final show of its 2019-2020 season opened last weekend in an online format and is slated to be available for streaming for three more weeks.
“This Street and the Next,” a recorded play written by members of the Pear Playwrights Guild, replaces the originally programmed “Side by Side” by Stephen Sondheim. “Street” is set to be streamed to patrons beginning Friday, with the collection of short videos being viewable at any time and in any order.
“It has become obvious that a digital production of ‘Side by Side’ by Sondheim is not possible for us,” artistic director Sinjin Jones said. “Although we previously secured the rights to a stage production, the rights to stream ‘Side by Side’ are simply not available at this time. While we hope to be able to present this show in the future, for now we have to shift gears.”
Jones added that, “In connecting with patrons and looking at feedback from the digital incarnation of ‘Pear Slices 2020,’ we decided to use this gap in programming as an opportunity to double down on some of the things that make Pear Theatre unique.Our Pear Playwrights Guild, our commitment to developing new work, and our commitment to community are all things that we want to emphasize during this time.”
“Street” uses overlapping narratives to explore the strength of the human spirit in the most difficult of times. The stories were devised through exercises and conversations among the writers, local artists and musicians.
View from ‘The Street’
In one, audiences see a couple whose wedding plans changed due to the pandemic; in another, a man living by himself examines the difference between alone and lonely while under shelter-in-place. In a third narrative, two men navigate online dating; in a fourth, a married couple – the husband an essential worker and the wife just beginning a cooking show video blog – explores the demands and meaning of work. Audiences can see these individuals throughout their time in shelter-in-place, a wandering minstrel helping to connect their stories.
While four stories make up the “Street” section, another six or so – more monologue in nature – connect to the “Next” part of the title. Pear Theatre has involved two local musicians, Derek Bernard and Drew Weber, to develop music specific to this show. Over the course of production, Pear will be asking patrons to fill out surveys to help guide certain aspects of the production, incorporating audience feedback into the final product.
In addition to providing tickets for viewing the videos, “Street” also will offer a virtual backstage pass, allowing access to the videos, interviews and behind-the-scenes looks.
Based on feedback from backstage pass users for “Pear Slices 2020,” Pear will add more context, simplify the release schedule and allow for more special access. Pear also plans to host at least five live digital events in connection with the production – including two talkbacks – to provide more opportunities for patrons to connect with one another and with the artists involved.
Subscribers and patrons who already have tickets for “Side by Side” will automatically receive access to the new production. Others may purchase a $15 ticket to the “Street” collection of videos or a $30 ticket that also includes a backstage pass and live, interactive digital events.
For tickets and more information, call 254-1148 or visit thepear.org/this-street-and-the-next.