SD Rep’s ‘House Of Joy’ Video Available On Vimeo Until April 12
Theater companies forced to close their doors now seek online options
Friday, April 3, 2020
As with many theaters, San Diego Rep has had to close its doors because of health concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, but the theater company is going online with its production of “House of Joy.”
The San Diego Rep’s production of “House of Joy” looks to 17th century India where a group of elite female guards protect the Emperor’s Imperial Harem. The production had both its opening night as well as closing performance on March 11. Fortunately, though, video of an earlier dress rehearsal had been shot and now the play has a chance to reach an audience online.
"It's an interesting transition for us because we, like many theaters in America, our business is gathering people together into a room to be close together," said Sam Woodhouse, director of "House of Joy" and artistic director at The Rep. "As someone said, join hands in the dark and to experience something together, to share a story. Well, the very core of our traditional business is currently not possible. We cannot do that. So we have become a media company like many other theaters now where we are distributing content via the web, video and text, interviews, stories, musical selection, Sam's Salon is online. For the first time in 12 years, I'm going online with it instead of live in the theater."
Seeing “House of Joy” as a video is not the same experience as going to the theater, but audiences can still appreciate the inspiring story, gorgeous production design, and impressive fight choreography.
"It's so fascinating to watch a professional fight choreographer come in to help inspire these women to bond together through combat," Woodhouse said. "There's nothing like fighting with sticks and smacking sticks with each other that bonds people together. And I've never seen it done with only women. But that's what happens in this production. So when I said it's women taking care of women, that's really the thread."
The themes of supporting one another in difficult times may play even stronger now as people are being asked to shelter in home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic has been a devastating health crisis and one of the side effects has been the financial hardships facing many arts organizations.
"It's quite scary," Woodhouse admitted. "It's deeply threatening to our stability and viability as an institution, as a business, because we cannot conduct our core business. We're not really a media company. We're just acting like one right now.
"Now, the other side of that answer is the theater is the place that all optimists flock to and people who come to the theater believe in the power of people coming together to make something out of nothing. And that's what we do whenever we start a play. There's nothing there. There's words on a page and we make a piece of gear so that energy still exists and is right now driven into planning and sharing that planning and sharing what we're working on for the future. So we're optimistic, we're cautious, and we want to try to be as safe as we can," Woodhouse said.
The Rep is operating with reduced staff and trying, as Woodhouse said, "to not only stay active, but to stay active in preparation for our return. When the Phoenix rises from the ashes."
People can buy virtual tickets to watch "House of Joy" online through the streaming service Vimeo. It is available now through April 12 and viewing links will be provided after tickets are purchased. Actors Equity Association, the Actors Union, has granted limited permission for people to see video of productions that had to close because of coronavirus.
To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.