Ensuring COVID Safety in Theater Productions

Theater has always been a space for creativity, and human connection. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the performing arts community to rethink its approach to safety in casting, rehearsal, and production. As we strive to maintain the magic of live theater while ensuring the well-being of everyone involved, it’s crucial to implement a range of mitigations for cast, crew, and audiences. In this article, we will explore some key strategies for safely navigating the world of theater during a pandemic.

Casting Safely

  • Virtual Auditions: To reduce in-person contact, consider holding virtual auditions via video conferencing platforms or self-taping. This approach allows you to assess actors’ skills and suitability for roles without the need for face-to-face interaction. It also reduces the number of people in a single physical location during the casting process.
  • Screen for Symptoms: Before bringing actors in for in-person callbacks or rehearsals, ensure that they complete a health screening, checking for symptoms and potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): Provide hand sanitizer and masks at your in person auditions and mandate masking for the rooms waiting room

Rehearsal Protocols

  • Frequent Ventilation: Proper ventilation is key to reducing the risk of airborne transmission. Ensure that rehearsal spaces are well-ventilated, and consider outdoor rehearsals when possible.
  • Masks: Provide masks for all cast and crew members. Require their use during rehearsals, especially when social distancing is challenging.
  • Hand Sanitizing Stations: Set up hand sanitizing stations throughout the rehearsal space. Encourage frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer.

Production Mitigations

Regular Testing: Implement a routine testing schedule for cast and crew to detect any potential cases early.

Digital Tickets: Shift to digital ticketing to reduce the need for physical contact at the box office. Encourage contactless payment methods for concessions.

Mask Mandates: Require audience members to wear masks at all times when inside the theater. Provide masks for those who may have forgotten theirs. This can be for specific dates or the whole production.

Enhanced Cleaning Protocols: Implement thorough cleaning and disinfection procedures in high-touch areas, such as restrooms, lobby spaces, and seating areas.

Streaming and On-Demand Options: Offer live streaming or on-demand options for those who may not feel comfortable attending in-person performances. This expands your audience and provides an alternative for those who prefer to stay at home.

COVID Safety in Theater

The theater industry has faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue creating exceptional performances while keeping everyone safe, a combination of proactive measures is essential. By prioritizing the safety of the cast, crew, and audience through virtual casting, rigorous rehearsal protocols, and audience-focused strategies, theater makers can navigate the spotlight with confidence and creativity. Together, we can ensure that the magic of live theater endures, even in the face of a global health crisis.

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