Broadway Theatre Studio, producers of Off-Broadway's The Imbible musical series, will produce a festival of live productions specifically created for online performance this fall, hosted exclusively on Playbill. The Playbill Virtual Theatre Festival Live will award a festival winner chosen by a panel of judges, as well as an Audience Choice Award winner voted on by festival viewers. Both winning productions will receive a $1,500 cash prize. Submissions are open through midnight PT, August 13.
“While audiences remain unable to come to the theatre, Playbill is determined to bring theatre to audiences,” says Playbill Vice President and Chief Digital Officer Alex Birsh. "This exciting new festival is a perfect fit for our new digital programming, and we’re eager to see what you come up with!"
Theatre fans looking to attend the festival will be able to purchase all-access festival passes for $2.99, with $1 from each ticket going to The Actors Fund. Submissions are currently being accepted at VTF.Live. There is no cost to submit. The festival will run October 23–24, with the VTF Live Awards Ceremony on October 25.
"We have our roots in theatre festivals," notes Executive Producer Anthony Caporale. "The Imbibile: A Spirited History of Drinking opened at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2014 for what was supposed to be five performances, and that launched our company into a six-year run with over 1,500 performances of four different shows."
Writers are encouraged to create works that can be experienced simultaneously with other audience members regardless of physical location or proximity, and that specifically embrace the live nature of the performances. The festival will feature cutting-edge technology from BeTerrific that brings the live theatre experience online, in hopes that participating theatre makers can use the festival to lead the charge in redefining the art from in the wake of the current health crisis.
“No one is sure what theatre will look like moving forward, but we do know it will look different," says festival Artistic Director Nicole DiMattei. “We see Playbill VTF Live as a way to crowd-source the solutions we need to speed theatre’s recovery, as well as a means to advance live performance in ways that will remain valuable and relevant afterward,” adds Executive Producer Anthony Caporale.