Question: if #SocialDistancing becomes the new norm for next couple of years, how will that apply to #theatre and #OutdoorArts performance? As well as audience members, will rehearsals and staging also have to be internally socially distanced? 😲🤔🙄— Andrew Loretto 🇪🇺 (@AndrewLore0
Question: if #SocialDistancing becomes the new norm for next couple of years, how will that apply to #theatre and #OutdoorArts performance? As well as audience members, will rehearsals and staging also have to be internally socially distanced? \uD83D\uDE32\uD83E\uDD14\uD83D\uDE44— Andrew Loretto \uD83C\uDDEA\uD83C\uDDFA (@AndrewLoretto) April 15, 2020
Imagine. It is the year 2021. People go to the theatre wearing masks and gloves and have to sit in seats that are separated by 2 metres. Actors are required to perform from opposite ends of the stage, and intervals have been extended to 45 minutes because getting a drink takes a lot longer when socially distancing.
Each audience member has a special potty next to their seat to save them walking past others to go to the loo, and dance numbers can only have a maximum of three people due to having to stay apart.
Actors have to be especially vigilant with their diction and projection as they are all wearing masks. Members of the orchestra are scattered randomly backstage, and props are all being sanitised every time they are used. And of course, showmances have been categorically banned (as have onstage kisses and flirting in the wings, dear).
God, it sounds horrific doesn’t it? But you raise a valid point: this pandemic is going to have a lasting impact on the business. I hope, of course, that things get back to normal soon and ideally by the end of the year – but I fear audience numbers will drop hugely and many actors will be forced to find different careers. Many already have.
Theatre will have to respond carefully and safety will need to be the number one priority. We will have to be incredibly vigilant, constantly sanitising both backstage and front of house and making sure that everyone washes their hands at every opportunity.
We may even have to put a sink on stage so actors can give themselves a mid-show wash – I think Kenny Branagh giving his “To be or not to be” while smothering his hands in creamy soap will be rather moving, dear.
In terms of outdoor venues, things may be a little easier, as spaces aren’t as cramped. However, the ever-popular audience of groundlings who pay £5 a time at Shakespeare’s Globe will not be quite as busy – the normal 500 capacity will have to be reduced to 10 (to adhere to those social distancing rules). But I suppose that gives the actors more space when they do those lovely (and often awkward) bits of audience interaction.
But, honestly, I do worry about the survival of theatres. I have been speaking to many chums and colleagues about audience patterns, and the general consensus is that members of the public will be wary about going to a crowded venue where they’re seated next to 500 to 1,000 other people. The way we live will change forever. And of course, with all the unemployment and financial worries I doubt the average person will want to spend more than £200 to see a musical about Neil and Christine Hamilton.
However, we shall have to see. I hope the old adage ‘the show must go on’ rings true. Sooner rather than later please.
Stay safe, dears.
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