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Daily distraction: See some ‘Great Performances’ from PBS

Welcome to your daily distraction, our recommendations for ways to stay engaged and entertained while we socially distance ourselves to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak. You can find our past recommendations here; many of the opportunities we’ve highlighted are ongoing.

The more thought I give to this crisis, the more sure I am that it is an equalizer that will bring society closer together.

For example: Until this past Saturday, I had no idea what the homes of SNL cast members looked like. Now I do, and having spotted Colin Jost’s acoustic guitar and Pete Davidson’s recessed neon ceiling lights, I have gained entry to a world of celebs who are — just like myself — stuck at home. I feel more like their peer, not because I could afford their lodgings (I can’t), but because I now have the insight needed to judge their interior design.

However, after such a long time of division, one hopes that, if nothing else, we’ll come out of this ordeal kinder to one another. In the meantime, it’s particularly important to be kind to yourself. With that in mind, here’s one way to treat yourself today.

Indulge in PBS’ many, many offerings

The Public Broadcasting Service is a bastion of culture, and especially important in times like these. The channel’s “Great Performances” series — which broadcasts operas, plays, ballets and concerts — has long done the good work of making the best of live entertainment available. Right now is a good time to revisit some of that program’s highlights, currently free to stream on PBS’ website.

Among those highlights is a taped performance of John Logan’s Tony-winning play “Red,” starring Alfred Molina as Mark Rothko. (If you want to learn a bit more about the life of the troubled painter, a documentary on his life is also available.) Also in stage plays is Kevin Kline’s Tony-winning turn in Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter,” which is especially good if you want to laugh — and really, who doesn’t these days. If you’re more of a musical fan, start with this a feature-length documentary about legendary Broadway director and producer Hal Prince, or this 2015 U.K. broadcast of “The Sound of Music.”

And if you prefer the classics, check out a recent Shakespeare in the Park presentation of “Much Ado About Nothing,” or conductor Scott Yoo’s “Now Hear This,” where he travels to Germany and Italy to learn more about the genius of Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi. Meanwhile, in modern classical music, there’s always the centennial celebration of Leonard Bernstein.

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at [email protected]


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