Long Beach Shakespeare Company to offer live theatre, virtually

Jonah+Goger+%28Lord+Ilingworth%29+and+Lauren+Holiday+%28Mrs.+Arbuthnot%29+in+the+upcoming+Long+Beach+Shakespeare+Company+streaming+production+of+A+Woman+of+No+Importance

Courtesy LB Shakespeare Co.

Jonah Goger (Lord Ilingworth) and Lauren Holiday (Mrs. Arbuthnot) in the upcoming Long Beach Shakespeare Company streaming production of A Woman of No Importance

Are you experiencing emptiness, longing, anxiety or other dramatic symptom of live-theatre withdrawal? You’ll be happy to know that the Long Beach Shakespeare Company (LBSC) has a cure for that.

Though all local theatre curtains remain closed during the current coronavirus restrictions, LBSC– the little theatre that could– will be performing a play that you and your entire family can view remotely for an entire month.

Bravely continuing its “host of heroes” season, LBSC is staging Oscar Wilde’s 1893 play, A Woman of No Importance beginning Friday, July 3. Patrons can purchase a ticket for $35 and stream the play as many times as they like through the month of July.

“This is a really big experiment for us,” Producer Dana Leach told the Signal Tribune . “The streaming production […] is unlike anything we have done before at LBSC.”

One ticket is good for an entire household, Leach said. Ticketholders will get a choice of either a Google or YouTube link on their e-ticket and by email to be viewed at their leisure on a smartphone, computer or smart TV. Patrons will also receive a PDF link to the program.

LBSC had originally scheduled the play in May to coincide with Mother’s Day. The witty 1893 play satirizes English upper-class society and focuses on a young man, Gerald Arbuthnot (Conor Sheehan), who is offered a position as secretary to Lord Illingworth (Jonah Goger). Gerald can now finally marry Hester (Jessie Vane), an American. But the story gets complicated with the arrival of Gerald’s mother Mrs. Rachel Arbuthnot (Lauren Holiday).

“All Gerald knows is he just landed his dream job with the lothario, Lord Illingworth,” LBSC notes. “What he doesn’t know is why his mother is so opposed to him taking it. She hasn’t told him that Illingworth is his father who abandoned her while she was pregnant and wants to steal Gerald away.”

Director Lauren Velasco says the play reflects issues and values of today, even though it was written over a hundred years ago.

“Oscar Wilde’s verbal brilliance and capability of creating interesting and unique characters allows people to explore what an everyday hero can mean,” Velasco notes. “He acknowledges the invisible labor made by mothers every day and everywhere.”

A Woman of No Importance is currently the only live theatre performance available in Long Beach, even though only virtually viewable. Leach said all reasonable safety precautions were taken in staging the play through “countless” online rehearsals and using disinfecting wipes, masks and gloves inside the Helen Borgers Theatre in Bixby Knolls.​

In-person live theatre won’t be allowed until Stage 4 of Governor Newsom’s reopening plan marking the end of his stay-at-home order, which will likely be when there’s a vaccine or treatment for the coronavirus.

“This labor of love is a testament to the tenacity of our actors and staff,” Leach said. “It may be the only way for us to continue.”

Visit LBSC’s website at lbshakespeare.org beginning July 3 to purchase a streaming ticket for A Woman of No Importance. One ticket is $35 and good for an entire household during the month of July.