Opening the Red Curtains

In Washington D.C. two theater companies, Theater J and Round House Theater, along with many others, have recently announced their plans to not reopen their doors for performances until at least 2021 starts. After being forced to shut their doors and interrupt their live performances, companies are relying on donations and the federal Paycheck Protection Program to stay afloat during the crisis. Being required to socially distance, more especially so because of the inside environment of theaters, makes some unwilling to open their doors. They question whether they will make enough revenue in tickets to make a profit after cutting audiences into fractions, purchasing proper disinfecting equipment for their theater, and just paying for regular costs to put on a show.

 The artistic director of Theater J came forward to explain the importance of prioritizing health during a time like this one rather than attempting to open the theater as fast as possible. Round House theater is optimistic they will return in 2021 but are planning cautiously to do so. Both companies are expanding their horizons to online offerings and are hiring their actors to teach courses to those interested. These companies are making do under the current circumstances and are seeing positive feedback and enrollment.

 For Mosaic Theater, they have taken a different approach to the regulations set for theater companies reopening. At a max capacity of 180, the rules permit 25% capacity which means only 46 audience members would be allowed. But due to their high amount of donations, they predict that this lack of an audience turnout wouldn’t deter them from putting on a show. The theater company had debuted their show entitled, “Inherit the Windbag,” in March and 1,000 people still have yet to get the production they paid for. Although the company plans to offer an online version of the show that viewers can enjoy at home, they are eager to give those ticket holders the live production they paid for.

 On a different note, in light of the recent event following the death of George Floyd’s death, theater companies have been reopening their doors not to perform but to act as a haven for protestors. In New York, Irondale has decided to open their lobby up to shelter protestors after being fully sanitized. “Irondale’s year-round programming includes “To Protect, To Serve, To Understand,” a community program that brings together New York Police Department officers and civilians to connect and devise theatre together as a way to promote communication and empathy.”


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