For the first time since March, Actors’ Equity has agreed to allow three different theatres here in the United States to put on indoor productions.
This is the first time since theatres were shut down that an indoor production has been approved. All three theatres are small nonprofits in New England, where the first outdoor productions were recently approved as well.
Music Theater of Connecticut will be performing a one-man show, and Northern Stage in Vermont will be performing a one-woman show. However, in another first, the third theatre, Weathervane Theater in New Hampshire, will be producing three shows in repertory, including a seven-person version of Little Shop of Horrors. According to the New York Times, the show is still trying to figure out how to stage parts of the show like the dental exam and of course interactions with Audrey II, but will be limiting contact between actors – meaning no kiss between Seymour and Audrey.
The theatres will operate at a socially distanced fraction of their normal capacity, though Music Theater of Connecticut will be also selling online tickets to make up the difference. The Weathervane shows will also feature no brass or wind instruments due to virus-spreading fears, and though it will require masks for moving about the theatre, no masks are required while in seats.
Throughout the country, many nonunion theatres have put on shows with nonunion actors, but this marks the first union-approved indoor productions. Actors’ Equity has been understandably hesitant to approve shows, but the New England area having a low number of cases is why these theatres will be the first allowed to return.
Before this, the only approved indoor show was Diana on Broadway, which will not even have an audience. Actors’ Equity also recently similarly approved a show for streaming at East Lynne Theater Company in New Jersey. And in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Black theatre company Front Porch Arts Collective has been approved to stage a series of cabaret performances outside the Central Square Theater.
I have conflicting feelings about this. On one hand, theatre workers need to work, and this definitely represents a positive turn in all the darkness of this pandemic. On the other hand…I still worry that things are not safe. It would take just one carrier to infect everyone else, and we would have another massive outbreak on our hands. I would like to remain cautiously optimistic, though I do wish there was another way (meaning, government financial support) and while I do understand the desire to get back to “normal,” you certainly will not catch me sitting inside a theatre until a vaccine is safe and available.
I don’t know. I miss theatre. I’m just worried about things going wrong, and having to wait even longer for live theatre to return. What do you think? Are you in support of indoor theatre being allowed or against it? Share your thoughts below. I am interesting in hearing both sides!
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