How can theater return as long as coronavirus threatens group gatherings?

Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater and the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health have announced plans to develop a “Roadmap to Recovery and Resilience for Theater,” based on their scientific study in which they aim to “develop principles and general guidance that address the particular challenges the theater faces as a result of the pandemic.”

“The question of how the theater can safely come back is our field’s most pressing challenge,” A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus said in a prepared statement.

“This is an all-in moment for the world, and the arts have a critical role to play in our recovery,” Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard’s Chan School and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said in a prepared statement. “I share Diane’s passion and sense of responsibility to leverage two of Harvard’s strengths—arts and health science—to provide a path forward for theater. To get there, we will draw on decades of research and practice on how to keep people safe as we consider how to effectively minimize the risk of disease transmission in ways that will allow theaters to continue their work.”

The “Roadmap to Recovery and Resilience for Theater” is intended to be a publicly available “case study for the field.” The theater says, “The initial framework will be available online at in the coming weeks.” They plan to update the information as they address “rehearsal and performance practice; audience interactions, including ticketing, restrooms, and concessions; back-of-house operations; and overall healthy building strategies.”

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Categories: Performance Theater