Food & Culture

This Week in Shows: What to Watch When You Can’t Leave the House

As we pivot to digital arts consumption, the ingenuity displayed by our local and national arts communities is staggering, but not surprising.

By Gemma Wilson March 19, 2020


As theaters of all sizes go dark and stages remain empty, those of us who find solace in these spaces are left wondering where to go, while many artists are wondering how they’ll pay rent. Artists are resilient (more resilient than they should have to be, given the way this country historically values them), so while the ingenuity displayed by our national arts community in the last week is staggering, it’s not surprising.

Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard performs live from his home. Broadway fixture Seth Rudetsky’s Stars in the House series presents daily in-home concerts from stage stars. Celebrities are going bonkers on Instagram: legendary Tony-nominated performer Debbie Allen taught a dance class via IG Live, for god’s sake, which is such a random and cool idea (Gal Gadot’s mash-up of celebs singing “Imagine” in 100 different keys was arguably less cool, but they can’t all be winners). 

One silver lining of self-isolation: proximity no longer affects access. Theater streaming platform BroadwayHD is offering a free week, and it offers more than just Broadway shows: San Francisco’s A.C.T. Theatre has released recordings of its recently canceled productions (Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Toni Stone by Lydia R. Diamond) on the site, and more are likely to follow. Watch nightly world-class performances from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Take virtual tours of the British Museum, Musée d’Orsay in Paris, The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and many others, thanks to Google Arts & Culture. Actor Ali Stoner and playwrights Lily Houghton and Matt Minnicino started the Instagram account @theatrewithouttheater, “a nightly theatrical broadcast aiming to fill the current artistic void at curtain time.” 

Bookmark The Social Distancing Festival, a brilliant online clearinghouse of live performance available online, with a calendar that includes links to everything from jazz to opera to puppet theater. Meanwhile, some established theaters and dance organizations are making recordings of canceled shows available to ticketholders (union regulations complicate release of these recordings to the general public, but these are unprecedented times, so stay tuned for more information about local theaters’ policies as it becomes available). 

Livestreaming of live arts will never replace the real thing, but as we stay home to participate in this massive act of human solidarity, it can fill temporarily fulfill our need for creativity and connection. The ghost light, a single light always left on center stage, is a theater tradition (and superstition) to keep ghosts away, but also a reminder that theaters never really go dark. 

If your job is unaffected by this health crisis, consider donating some of that money you’re saving by not going out to artists and gig workers who aren’t so lucky. If you have a ticket for a show that was canceled, don’t ask for your money back. Buy subscriptions for next season now. If an artist is making their work available online, donate to their Patreon or support them via Venmo. When we come back together, let’s make sure we come back strong.

If you’re an artist, the good people at Northwest Folklife have compiled a massive list of support streams here; fans, donate to author Ijeoma Oluo’s Seattle Artist Relief Fund Amid COVID-19 for local artists here. Below, find an ongoing, non-comprehensive list of events big and small to enjoy from home. Are you an artist with a digital performance or event to share? Email me at


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