An open letter to the DMV theater community

We are not immune. We cannot act as if we are. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, theaters have an important role to play.

As passionate theater lovers and as members of the DC Metro Theater Arts leadership team, we applaud the DMV theaters that have announced closure or postponement of current and upcoming productions. We can only imagine the difficulty of this decision and the costs to institutions and individuals it comes with. But we believe deeply that you have done the right thing, and we thank you from our hearts.

Like many concerned citizens, we have been following epidemiological projections for the COVID-19 pandemic, and the warning is clear: Americans are headed for a catastrophic overload of hospitals and an exponential death toll (as has happened in other countries) unless we act now to “flatten the curve,” or slow the spread of the virus. And in the absence of a vaccine or treatment, the most effective means we have to curtail community spread is social distancing—staying away from other people—which of course is exactly the opposite of everything we love about live theater. 

But people who work in the theater and people who come to the theater are not immune. Their welfare, like everyone’s now, is contingent upon limiting exposure. People who have been infected with COVID-19 can transmit it before they have symptoms with merely a cough, sending it airborne to anyone within six feet. There are confirmed cases in the area—doubtless more than have been reported. At this critical juncture, we believe it is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to minimize the risk to others and to ourselves.

For this reason, we stand in grateful solidarity with the courageous and farsighted DMV theaters that have made the tough choice to go dark. By acting now, these theaters are playing an important part in ensuring a future when the show can again go on in good health.

We are all in this together. In time, our theater ghost lights will be stored away and the bright lights will be on once again. Let us then find a way to celebrate that together.

Nicole Hertvik, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher
John Stoltenberg, Communications Advisor
David Siegel, Senior Advisor

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