Venues continue to extend shutdown with delayed seasons

Some organizations would rather wait out COVID-19 than reopen prematurely

As the current public safety situation with COVID-19 continues to be unpredictable, DMV-area theaters and other venues are being forced to make decisions regarding their upcoming fall seasons. Many arts organizations had already decided to keep their re-opening date open-ended, but some are taking a bit of pressure off by pulling back, re-organizing, and delaying their seasons—or canceling them entirely. The following list reflects current statements released by DMV arts organizations. This list was first published June 16, 2020, and has been continuously updated as information comes in. The most recent update was made at 9 PM on July 6.

The Center for the Arts at George Mason University will suspend the presentation of traditional, live, professional public performances or events inside its Fairfax venues through fall of 2020. This includes its annual Great Performances at Mason Series, the Family Series, as well as external event rentals in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, Harris Theatre, the deLaski Performing Arts Building, and TheaterSpace.

As part of Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, and situated on Mason’s Fairfax campus, the Center along with all Mason performing arts spaces have been dark since March 13, 2020 in an effort to decrease the risk of exposure to and spread of COVID-19. Although the Center’s 30th Anniversary season may not begin as originally planned, they are pursuing creative opportunities for digital programming and exploring safe and artistically satisfying options for in-person programming for the remainder of 2020.

The Kennedy Center will cancel most previously announced performances and events through the end of 2020 with some planned programs moving to spring 2021 and beyond, due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and in accordance with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s current guidelines for re-opening. The Center’s leadership, programming, and education teams are exploring digital and, in consultation with health and safety experts, physical methods of enacting the mission of the nation’s cultural center and engaging with artists and audiences as our country and region moves through phased reopening.

New programming working within the Mayor’s guidelines will be announced in July. It will feature new events curated to take advantage of the Center’s diverse indoor spaces and more than 130,000 square feet of outdoor green space to create physically distant programming, and will include some previously planned performances relocated into different venues.

Given the ongoing spread of coronavirus, the LTA Board of Governors has cancelled the summer musical Sister Act, the September production of August Wilson’s Fences, and the October/November production of Wait Until Dark. The Board did not undertake these cancellations lightly. While the financial hit will be difficult, LTA has a more pressing responsibility to the community. Keeping actors, volunteers, members, and subscribers safe is a priority, and that “rainy day” fund created years ago will now be used to sustain LTA during a period of belt-tightening.

LTA is now rolling out a new education plan and beginning its work with the City of Alexandria’s ALX Promise project. They are watching the Governor’s Forward Virginia plan to determine when and if students can return to LTA in small numbers in July. Focus will be one of small classes (8-10), intensive cleaning and sanitizing, and outdoor learning. Watch their education website for developments.

National Theatre has announced they will delay their next season until spring 2021, and will share show titles and more information in fall. The safety of theater goers and employees is their highest priority.

Photo courtesy of the National Theatre.

PMTC has announced they we will celebrate their move to The Writer’s Center in Bethesda with the opening of Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy in January 2021. There will be seven performances over two weekends, January 14 – 17 and January 22 – 24. Ayad Akhtars’ Disgraced will run May 13 – 16 and May 21 – 23. Of course there are still questions as to how we will come together in a hopefully post-COVID environment. As localities around the nation begin to open, plans for re-opening around the metropolitan DC area are being developed. Although strong safeguards, including physical distancing and the use of masks, are still in place in Montgomery County, it is good to look forward in hope. Hal Freed, the President of the PMTC Board of Directors has more information on future PMTC operations with respect to area reopening plans. Please click the video below to learn more.

Round House Theatre has announced further changes to the 2020-2021 Season in response to the ongoing pandemic. To ensure the safety and health of artists, audiences, students, and staff, Round House will not produce live performances for the remainder of 2020. Until further notice, Round House facilities, including the Bethesda theatre and the Education Center in Silver Spring, will be closed. At this time, the theatre hopes to return to live performances in early 2021. Round House will hold camps virtually, and continue to create digital programming throughout the fall and winter. More details will be announced in the coming months.

Silver Spring Stage’s primary concern is the health and safety of patrons, artists, crew, and volunteers. They are working to respond to the guidelines set by the state of Maryland and Montgomery County keeping this concern in mind. The plans for the remaining three remaining shows in 2019-2020 are:

Pride and Prejudice – This show has been cancelled. This show was already cast. They had started rehearsals and pre-production work. We thank them for their effort in these difficult times. We will be reaching out soon to subscribers and ticket buyers to offer them an opportunity to convert their tickets to a donation, exchange for a voucher, or refund. If you are one of those ticket holders, you may email your choice now to
Lobby Hero and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. These shows have been moved to the 2020-2021 season.

The next step is considering the next season. We have been looking at many professional theaters. They are mostly not planning any new productions for the rest of this calendar year. To be honest with you our friends, donors, subscribers, and patrons, the plays for the 2020-2021 season are now all TBD since we cannot guarantee what the state of theatre in Maryland will be in the next year. To be blunt we cannot be sure how many plays we will be able to mount or when. With that in mind, the roster of plays for consideration once we can open is as follows:

* Lobby Hero by Kenneth Lonergan

* The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens, based on the novel by Mark Haddon

* A Christmas Story by Philip Grecian, based on the story by Jean Shepherd

* Ada and the Engine by Lauren Gunderson

* Scissoring by Christina Quintana

* Blue Stockings by Jessica Swale

* A Doll’s House, part 2 by Lucas Hnath

* She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen

To ensure the safety of its artists, patrons, and staff during the ongoing uncertainty and threat posed by COVID-19, Studio Theatre will begin presenting subscription programming in January 2021 with a truncated four-play 2020–2021 season. Titles will be announced in the coming months. Studio’s doors have been closed to the public since March 15, 2020. Because of its shifting season, Studio plans to run each of its productions for longer periods to allow for low seating capacity in its theaters in observance of social distancing. The Theatre is also exploring the potential for virtual or streamed performances to share its work with more audiences and to accommodate those who would rather wait to return to a traditional theatre space.

Theater J has announced that, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, the three productions originally scheduled for fall 2020 are being canceled. As the Washington, DC region works toward recovery, Theater J places the highest priority on protecting the health and safety of its audience, artists, and staff. The canceled productions are The Kinsey Sicks in Electile Dysfunction, Arthur Miller’s Incident at Vichy, and Tuesdays with Morrie by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom. For summer and fall 2020, Theater J is thrilled to be introducing new and expanded online programs to fulfill its vital mission: celebrating, exploring, and grappling with the complexities and nuances of both the Jewish experience and the universal human condition. “I wholeheartedly believe that during this moment of challenge, arts organizations need to run toward our missions,” says Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr. “Theater is essential, and full of stories that bring us joy, stories that teach us empathy, stories that challenge our minds, and stories that bring us together. Theater J’s audience may not be able to gather in person, but we are continuing to create this community and deep connection through engaging, provocative, and meaningful classes, online play readings, town hall-style gatherings, 30th anniversary tributes, and more still to be announced.” Online programming allows Theater J to establish partnerships with Jewish organizations across the country and reach audiences both in the metro DC region and beyond. “This crisis has led to an important opportunity for us to connect to new communities across the nation like never before,” notes Managing Director Jojo Ruf. “It is exciting to have students from California to Oregon to Massachusetts be able to take a class taught by an extraordinary DC artist like Naomi Jacobson. In this time, the world has become a little smaller, and Theater J’s community has become a little larger.” Theater J is closely following the recommendations of both the DC government and the CDC, as well as consulting directly with medical professionals, and remains hopeful that all the originally announced winter/spring programming in 2021 can happen.


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