PBS and "OnStage In America" a new nonprofit venture, are joining forces to put the greatest theater productions from across America on prime-time national television, in a fresh and exciting new format. This will be the first television series in decades to focus on the network of more than a thousand not-for-profit stages that have originated thirty-six of the last thirty-eight Pulitzer-Prize-winning plays. Every year dozens of new plays are premiered for audiences around the country in what can be spectacular and deeply moving productions that run for a few weeks and then end, often never to be seen again.
Each season this new PBS series will broadcast at least four of the best current productions from across the country. Taking advantage of new technologies, light-weight high-definition cameras will go onstage and move with the actors to capture drama with unprecedented freedom and intimacy. Performances will shift toward the cameras (and television audiences), and cinematographers will capture true close-ups, traveling shots, inserts...the entire vocabulary of cinema. Skilled film directors will plan and shape the visual universe of each program to heighten the drama. The result will be live theater visualized and transformed into exciting television in ways never before possible.
Hundreds of stage productions will be reviewed every season to find the most powerful, the most entertaining, the most unusual and surprising, and the most relevant to issues of contemporary life in this country. Unlike anything now on television, this new theater series will turn a fresh spotlight on the American stage, one of America's most exciting and creative performing arts. Following their broadcast the plays will become part of a digital library, accessible for on-demand, streaming, and other digital distribution. The series will build new audiences for theaters everywhere, and OnStage will promote the programs for use by schools, universities, and community organizations. National educational and community outreach programs will also be developed to assist theaters across the country in their programs of community engagement.
Technology has changed the playing field. Theater companies, theater unions, and theater professionals are eager to have their work shown on national television. PBS has signed on. This is a series whose time has come.