The pandemic has shuttered Broadway through the end of the year (at least), and the United States’ big regional theaters and major outdoor festivals have mostly pivoted to streaming. But many theaters are still finding ways to present live performances before live audiences.
Of course, there is social distancing. Also, in some places, masks. Temperature checks. Touchless ticketing. Intermissionless shows. Lots of disinfectant. And at the Footlights Theater, in Falmouth, Maine, actors will perform behind plexiglass.
But these precautions mean there is dinner theater in Florida, street theater in Chicago, and drive-in theater in Iowa.
“Our commitment is to do live theater — there’s a huge difference between that and seeing something on a computer screen,” said Susan Claassen, managing artistic director of Invisible Theater in Tucson, Ariz., a state that has emerged as a Covid-19 hot spot.
There are also financial reasons for continuing: Some theaters say they cannot survive a year without revenue.
“We’d rather go down creating good theater than die the slow death behind our desks,” said Bryan Fonseca, the producing director of Fonseca Theater Company in Indianapolis. The company plans to stage “Hype Man,” a three-character play by Idris Goodwin, outdoors, for 65 mask-wearing patrons.
“I am hopeful and also very cautious,” Fonseca said, “careful that I don’t create a problem.”
And in New York City, Food for Thought Productions, a company that presents staged readings of one-act plays, plans to restart in a private club on July 13, with attendees required to have taken coronavirus tests.