Maybe I've just had my head in the sand (or clouds), and have only recently begun to recognize what feels like a proliferation of these filmed stage plays, some with and others without a live audience.
Often morality plays, they seem to becoming all the rage these days, thanks in part to the ease in distribution that DVD and the web provide.
I'd say over the last 6 months, I’ve noticed that there's a lot more marketing for them... again, unless, as I said already, that I've just not been paying attention. But my email inbox receives at least 3 announcements a week, alerting me to a new filmed play that's available for rent of purchase. I haven't posted any of them here, assuming that you folks likely won't be interested; but who am I to make that assumption! We have readers from all walks of life, and the fact that these filmed plays continue to see distribution means that there must be an audience for them; somebody must be buying them, even if it's not me.
I know the plays have been around for awhile, so I'm not talking about the plays specifically, but rather the packaging and selling of videotaped versions of them (or more like extended sitcoms, given the way they are set up and shot), and the fact that, even more noteworthy, several "name" actors and actresses are taking roles in them. Certainly not what the industry would label A-list talent (just going by industry labeling here), but still names that most of us would instantly recognize, like Robin Givens, Morris Chestnut, Brian White, Clifton Powell, N'Bushe Wright, Vivica Fox, Michelle Williams, and many more.
Obviously there's money being made here. I've never watched any of them (not in full anyway - just bits and pieces to see what they were like), so I can't really comment on them until I do.
So, I'm claiming ignorance on this, and I'll wait for someone with the knowledge and experience to enlighten me :)
Certainly Tyler Perry's success with the filmed versions of his stage plays, is of influence on the recent wave.
As a sample, here's one that I received just 2 days ago, which hit the marketplace yesterday, May1. It's called She’s Not Our Sister, and is described as a "biting, bickering and hilarious musical comedy that brings a contemporary tale of family, tragedy and triumph to life.
The story goes...
In this powerful play, three women experience a roller-coaster ride of emotions as they confront their father's death, long-buried family secrets and the startling revelation of an affair that almost tore their parents' marriage apart. She’s Not Our Sister is the highest-rated GMC World Premiere Gospel Play to date; and has since become a hit GMC television series titled, She’s Still Not Our Sister. The All-Star cast includes Kellita Smith (“The Bernie Mac Show”), Drew Sidora (“The Game”), Azur-De (Somebody Help Me 2), Christian Keyes (Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes To Jail), Clifton Powell (Ray), Tony Grant (“Why Did I Get Married” and “A Madea Christmas” stage plays) and Jazsmin Lewis (“Meet the Browns”).
I suppose for the actors, it's paid work - especially when work for black actors in Hollywood isn't exactly plentiful. And we could make the comparison to other filmed stage plays/musicals. For example, would you watch a video-taped version of any of the shows currently on Broadway (A Streetcar Named Desire, Porgy & Bess, Clybourne Park) if they were available? There's been a recent push to broadcast live stage shows in theaters around the world, for those who are not in the city in which the performance is taking place, or who can't afford to see the performance live. In essence, it gets the content to those folks who want it, but can't readily access it. A win/win situation if there ever was one. But is something lost in the experience - live and in person, or projected on a screen of any size?
Watch the trailer for it below; and then riddle me this: if you're a fan of these video-plays, school me: