It was just. It was really heartbreaking.I knew people that were in the middle of production.
Or I think there were at least a couple shows.I knew people that had just opened. They just got one night.
Opening night was their closing night.
COVID 19 hit the theater industry hard.As cases increase around the United States,
many broadway productions and regional theater are postponing until spring 2021, or even longer.
The American theater is our audiences tend to be older and so they fall into the high risk category
The theater wont come back until the audiences are ready to come back
and that that may actually demand either a vaccine or some kind of therapy.
Many regional theaters like those in the San Francisco bay area are non-profits
and run on tight budgets. While so many are out of work.Those who have the resources too
are drawing on their ingenuity to live up to the adage. The show must go on.
Because we are non-profit theaters.We are mission driven. From our perspective,
its less about how many tickets we can sell.And much more about getting these stories out there,
about creating these experiences for our audiences.
Elizabeth Carter, producing a modern take on King Lear, has gone totally online.
She cast women and people of color and traditionally white male roles.
Instead for her, cancelling was never an option she considered.
We have George Floyd and a resurgence in actually having conversations about race.
So it feels really really poignant right now.
Though it has not been without challenges,Carter directs the entire cast from her laptop.
Everyone has stepped up.They all have green screens and light kits and all these things in their homes.
We say were building the ship as were flying it. Jim Clinment who runs a large theater festival
switched his entire operation to zoom calling it playground zoom fest.
Its still about sharing the energy of creating something that youre seeing as its happening.
If the actor misses a line or if a technical flood happens and the virtual background doesnt click on
Thats just like when a light cue is missed or a sound cue is missed and we still keep performing.
Everyone admits this is not a replacement for live.
That live experience of being in a space whether its a concert or a play or dance.
We call it the collective breath.Its when everyone suddenly catches their breath at a moment
because youre all seeing the same thing. And youre all having that same experience
and this just you just cant synchronize that across Zoom.
Hopefully this new platform for productions extends a lifeline to the community
that lasts until it is safe to come together again.
For VOA News Dina Mitchell Oakland California