The Jewish Women’s Theatre is closed thanks to COVID-19 but offers comfort by way of virtual programming.

It’s hard keeping it together, isn’t it? You can stream endless entertainment via Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video and other platforms to fill your head with comedy, drama, mystery, mayhem and more. I hear Criterion Collection is outstanding, there’s also BritBox, FlixFling and who knows how many others where you can spend 24/7 watching whatever your heart desires.

But why not keep your mind and heart open to other ways of thinking, viewing and participating? So many arts organizations, restaurants, small businesses are desperately trying to find ways not to close their doors. Take a peek at some of what they’re doing online, in lieu of in-person events. And consider a donation for those organizations sharing events without charging for them. It’s only right. The Internet only LOOKS free, but costs are always involved.

JEWISH WOMEN’S THEATRE

The season was cancelled for this Santa Monica-based performance and arts salon, but some form of the show must go on. Jewish Women’s Theatre started by asking members of their community to send stories of how they’re coping, and the actors, artistic directors and others in the company are reading those stories, and others, from their homes via smartphone video. It’s touching, tender, intimate and these personal story readings are posted Monday-Friday, with a slightly more spiritual leaning on the Friday posts, since sunset brings the Sabbath.

Additionally, Artistic Director Ronda Spinak will be curating stories from JWT’s archives that featuring a Passover theme. The holiday began last night and the offerings will continue for 7 more days. Also, catch up with JWT on their hour-long Passover 2020 Zoom panel discussion, called the “Un-Loneliness of the Long-Distance Seder,” featuring local chef and cookbook author, Amelia Saltsman.

Find all the JWT stories on YouTube here:

For more information and links to their videos, visit https://www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.

VERDI CHORUS ON APRIL 18

On April 18, at 7:30 p.m., you can tune to the Verdi Chorus website https://www.verdichorus.org or to Facebook https://www.facebook.com/VerdiChorus/ to enjoy a free concert on the night they would have been performing their previously scheduled performance. As the only choral group in Southern California focused primarily on music for opera chorus, you’ll hear selections from three Verdi operas – La forza del destino, Nabucco, and the opening party scene of La Traviata,concluding with beloved melodies from Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.

The program features four guest soloists: soprano Shana Blake Hill, mezzo-soprano Karin Mushegain, tenor Alex Boyer, and baritone Ben Lowe, who returns to the Verdi Chorus by popular demand.

BERGAMOT GALLERIES

There are plenty of museums opening up their doors for virtual tours of their collections, but local galleries are keeping pace.

To receive a daily message called “The Power of Photography,” sign up for the email newsletter from Peter Fetterman Gallery This brilliant photo gallery presents inspiring, beautiful, haunting, often powerful images from their collection. There’ve been historic, classic and contemporary works that are a joy to receive on a daily basis and there’s a 3-D tour of the gallery, which allows you to zoom in on any image. Visit www.peterfetterman.com and ask to be included on the mailing list.

I also received a link to a 3-D tour of Latin American Masters, along with virtual tour of their exhibition, Arnaldo Roche: Homage. It’s gorgeous, so give yourself a minute to appreciate this beauty. Contact the gallery to be included on their mailing list. https://www.latinamericanmasters.com/exhibitions/arnaldo-roche2

City Garage, our bold and adventurous local theatre, is putting up an eclectic mix of videos, including one of their mascot dog and Artistic Director Frederique Michel’s adorable granddaughter, in addition to monologues, songs and other pieces from works they’ve presented onstage. Join the fun at City Garage Virtual Cabaret: https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage.

FOR THE KIDS

The Cayton Children’s Museum also closed its doors but created a video series called “#CaytonRecess to connect with their young patrons. Join them LIVE weekdays at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Instagram for storytelling, music and singalongs to keep the little ones entertained. Videos will be later be housed at YouTube. For the live feed follow @CaytonMuseum on IG (look for the “live” button), otherwise, visit their YouTube Channel here: Bit.ly/caytonrecess

ON A LARGER SCALE

London’s National Theatre has created National Theatre at Home and offers FREE recorded versions of plays they’ve produced for stage. Every Thursday, there’s a new full-length production. Last week it was James Corden (the late-night host) in the hilarious comedy “One Man, Two Guvnors,” and today (April 9) tune in for the literary classic, “Jane Eyre.” There’s a LOT of fine content on their YouTube channel; immerse yourself in behind-the-scenes, actors warming up, “how we made it” features, and so much more. Visit: or https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/

SXSW FILM FEST FREE ON AMAZON

One of the most disruptive discontinuations caused by COVID, SXSW (South by Southwest festival) was cancelled by the City of Austin. It’s a place where new artists are launched so it was a major blow. But saving the day for filmmakers, the ten-day SXSW film festival will be available FREE, streaming on Prime Video; you don’t even need to be a Prime member. All you need is an Amazon account (free to set up). I’ll be watching, as so much creative filmmaking energy comes out of this festival. The only info I have is that it will be streamed sometime late in April so keep your eyes open for news!

Sarah A. Spitz is an award-winning public radio producer, retired from KCRW, where she also produced arts stories for NPR. She writes features and reviews for various print and online publications.

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