In these COVID-19-restricted times, when social distancing is vital and intimate spaces must be avoided, the folks at the Classic Theatre have been trying to figure out how to safely present Season 13. Then it dawned on them — they can take it outside!
Kelly Roush, the theater’s Executive and Artistic Director, recently talked with ArtScene SA about the Classic’s plans for Theatre in the Rough.
Details about how it’s all going to work are still being arranged. “We’re still ironing out possibilities,” she said. “But we have been focusing on our mission, which is providing excellent theater that is live and in person while keeping people safe — both staff and patrons.”
The Classic’s intimate space is far too small for the necessary safeguards. “There was just no way to do social distancing; backstage or onstage,” Kelly continued. “That’s not gonna work for at least 12 to 18 months. All of 2020 and at least half of 2021.
“But stories will be here at the end of this event. And knowing that we’re going to have this interesting start-stop society and we’re learning that recycled air is a problem…what can we do to continue working toward excellent theater? As I was looking all over, I thought, ‘Oh…let’s return to what theater was originally. Like the Greeks did it. Let’s go outdoors! There’s no recycled air. There’s room to social distance. People can bring their own chairs or blankets.
‘Let’s look at some of those great plays that were done outdoors. We can work toward this, and the important thing is that we have to be able to pivot. We have to be adaptable and creative. And we’re planning on a modified season. Instead of our usual five Mainstages and our two Second Series, we’re planning on doing three shows.”
She realized that everyone involved in the creative process would have to be committed. “We need to be prepared. Are we all in if it has to be cancelled and then redone two weeks later? We’ll need to be flexible with minimal set and minimal props. Instead of creating an elaborate set, it’s going to focus on the actors and their words.”
As far as the schedule goes, Kelly said, “We’re still hoping to present this year, possibly in October. We’re already working on a show with Zoom rehearsals, and we have Our Town, which was ready to go and got cancelled. We were going to do it in May, and then August. It’s been a comedy of errors. So with every plan we make, we know we have to have a back-up plan. This isn’t just an interruption. It’s a disruption. So this modified season will possibly have a show in October, a show in February and a show in April. Or if we can’t do a show in October, then it’ll be February, March and April [of 2021].
“We’re working with some great partners to find out how we can be outdoors and still do some really great theater.”
Feature photo: Adam Ochoa and Alyx Gonzales in Our Town (Siggi Ragnar).