Broadway is shut down until at least Labor Day weekend. Other cities around the world – think Chicago, London, Paris – have also shut down their live venues. For those who don’t regularly support the arts through their attendance and don’t need their theater fix, this may not be a big deal, but for those of us who spend our lives on stage and dream at night of the next musical, this is borderline traumatic.
So, theater companies are getting creative as they work to keep an audience alive for their return.
How The Broadway League Is Dealing
Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League has made it clear that health and safety is the top priority for cast, crew, and audience. “While all Broadway shows would love to resume performances as soon as possible, we need to ensure the health and well-being of everyone who comes to the theater — behind the curtain and in front of it — before shows can return.” – Charlotte St. Martin
“While all Broadway shows would love to resume performances as soon as possible, we need to ensure the health and well-being of everyone who comes to the theater — behind the curtain and in front of it — before shows can return.” – Charlotte St. Martin
Since many folks already purchased tickets for shows this summer, Broadway League theaters are offering refunds and exchanges for shows through September 6th.
Shows, like the Michael Jackson musical, MJ, have been postponed with new opening dates currently set for 2021.
These delays, refunds, and cancellations are wreaking havoc on theater companies the world over.
Some Theaters Face Permanent Closures
If you’ve ever dreamed of attending a show at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, you may be out of luck. The theater, like many others, is facing permanent shuttering thanks to required shutdowns for COVID-19 safety.
Without the funding brought in by season ticket holders, purchase of single performance tickets, merchandise and other funding, live theater is under threat of major losses.
Not all is lost, though, as some theaters are taking creative measures to keep moving forward. This attitude is something actors and producers have always been good at, and we’re thankful they’re continuing that tradition.
How Live Theater Companies Are Dealing
To keep live theater companies afloat, many have taken to offering filmed performances that are not typically available to audiences. They’re working with a variety of streaming platforms and even recently, there’s been a new streaming platform created specifically for live theater performances.
Stage, a new streaming platform for theatrical productions, is designed specifically to cater to audiences yearning for some theatrical wonder. It’s not the same, obviously, but it is something. You can check their catalog before signing up and use their free seven-day trial to determine if you’re ready to stream.
Fundraisers Are Also A Thing
If you are not familiar with Goldstar.com, you need to know about them. The platform for finding great shows, purchasing tickets at discount rates, and online socially communing with other theater buffs is helping theaters run fundraisers to help keep themselves running while lockdowns remain in place. You can also purchase one-off tickets for streaming of programs that have gone on before the lockdowns kicked in.
Social media campaigns, websites, blogs, Youtube video and more can be found for many theaters to help them in this time of crisis. They’re not just to keep the companies in business, though, but the fundraising is for keeping food on the tables of the actors, crew, and production company administration staff.
Theaters, Staff, And Audience Rallying Together
“…I’d love to go back to work. I love what I do as a stagehand. I work in theater and help people take themselves out of their usual spaces and give them a new experience. I’d love to see it come back better than ever.” – Jasiu Clark
The important thing is safety, which means no live theater for now. We have the opportunity to change how things have been done, though, in this time of separation and seclusion. Stagehands are forming unions. Existing unions are releasing aid for members. Everyone is eagerly awaiting the day when theater performances are live once more. Jasiu Clark, a stagehand based in the Tri-State area, expressed is desire to return to work via Twitter. “…I’d love to go back to work. I love what I do as a stagehand. I work in theater and help people take themselves out of their usual spaces and give them a new experience. I’d love to see it come back better than ever.”