Live Theater From London, At the Burns Film Center

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PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Scoring front row tickets to a major rock concert or to performances of the world’s best theater productions can be difficult, to say the least.  That is, unless you live near the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville.

“It’s a great opportunity to see something from across the country or even across the ocean that you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to see unless you are there,” said Rob Sampogna, marketing and social media coordinator for the film center.

Over the last two years, the Burns Center has joined the national performing arts trend of broadcasting live concerts or theater productions. The Metropolitan Opera began broadcasting live HD performances of its operas in movie theaters around the country in 2006. 

The Burns sells tickets to the events as they would for a regular movie, and fans get to watch a live broadcast from the best seats in the house, right from comfort of their local theater.  This season the film center is participating in a program called “National Theatre Live,” which broadcasts live performances of Britain’s best theater. 

The next upcoming live performance at the center is “Traveling Light," a play about Eastern European immigrants who became Hollywood bigwigs, which is currently on stage at the National Theatre in London.  Tickets for the Burns Center's showing are $25, or $20 for members -- and viewers don't need to buy an airline ticket. 

Sampogna said these events have been widely successful and are almost always sold out.  In addition to airing live broadcasts, the Burns Center has also shown archived live concert performances from decades ago by bands such as The Beatles or Rush.  Sampogna said one of the more popular events in the history of the center was this past summer when the center showed recently discovered rare performances in the Shelley Archives from Pink Floyd, The Kinks, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Grateful Dead. 

“That was so popular because it was concert footage from many years ago that had not been seen very often, if at all,” Sampogna said. 

Globally broadcast events are provided to the Jacob Burns Film Center through a Brooklyn-based company that specializes in satellite distribution of live events called BY Experience. 

“I think even the artists themselves are realizing that they can’t get as many people as they want into the doors and with tough economic times it’s a great chance to give people the opportunity to see things for less money,”  Sampogna said.  “But it’s not all about the money, it’s really just getting the arts out there for as many people to see as possible.” 


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