3 Questions to Guide You in Reopening

Written by Stefanie Maiya Lehmann |

Broadly thinking, there are three major questions theatre companies must ask when considering whether or not they are ready to reopen. Each of these big questions raises a multitude of smaller, more specific questions that must be discussed.

1. Will your state/local government permit it?

  • Is your business one of the types permitted to reopen?
  • Some states have announced a phased approach. If yours is one, which phase is your state currently in?
  • Is there a restriction on group size or crowd capacity?
  • Are there sanitation requirements?
  • Are masks required?
  • Are you required to maintain social distancing guidelines?

2. Can you safeguard your staff, cast and crew?

  • Does your area have access to accurate testing?
  • Will you require daily health and temperature checks?
  • Will actors return to potentially contaminated homes or businesses every night?
  • How will your nonlocal company members safely travel to your area?
  • Will they need a 14-day quarantine upon arrival? Is your typical housing acceptable under virus protections?
  • Will they be permitted to leave for errands such as grocery shopping?
  • How will you manage rehearsals? Will you require masks?
  • Can your actors and technicians actually do their jobs while maintaining reasonable social distancing?
  • Are your backstage, pit, dressing rooms, etc., large enough?
  • How will you handle the staging of intimate scenes and dance partnering?
  • Do you have suitable understudies and swings to replace members required to temporarily quarantine due to high temperatures or symptoms?
  • Do you have equipment or supplies that are typically shared (such as headsets, PPE, styling tools)?
  • How will high-contact items such as props or costumes be sanitized and cleaned?
  • How will your employees be protected from potentially ill audience members?

3. Can you safeguard your audiences?

  • Can audiences safely enter and exit your facility while maintaining social distancing?
  • Does your parking lot need to be adjusted for social distancing?
  • What high-contact, high-risk areas can you mitigate – for example, door handles, buttons, ticket taking, brochures, bag check, concessions and restrooms?
  • Will you require temperature and health screenings?
  • Will you require masks and/or gloves?
  • How will you respond to those patrons who will not comply with your protective measures?
  • Do you have enough sanitizing stations?
  • How will you rescale your house to adhere to social distancing?
  • What is your plan for regular cleaning and sanitization?
  • Will your emergency plans be impacted by any of the virus protection measures?
  • If you offer any food or beverage services, can they meet the new safety standards?
  • If an audience member is diagnosed with COVID-19 following their attendance at your venue, how will you respond?

This list originally appeared as part of the How Theatre Makes Its Comeback: Producing Shows in a Pandemic article in Southern Theatre, The Magazine of the Southeastern Theatre Conference, Volume LXI Number 3, Summer 2020

Written by Stefanie Maiya Lehmann
Stefanie Maiya Lehmann is furloughed from her job as business manager of 
Lincoln Center Concert Halls and Production in New York City. She is a member 
of the Southern Theatre Editorial Board.





Leave a Comment