The ever nimble Alden in McLean has developed a unique way to provide theatrical entertainment in this era of COVID-19. With indoor live theater on hiatus for more than three months, the Alden is set to debut a very singular production entitled Small Change.
The family-friendly Small Change is a “Drive-Thru Drama.” Actors will be scattered around the McLean Community Center’s ample parking lot performing an interconnected story through short solos, each about two minutes long.
Small Change follows the travels of a $1 bill as it journeys through time and space, interacting with different people’s lives and leaving its mark on the world. The theatrical performance, written and directed by Andrew Scott Zimmer, was commissioned by The Alden.
“Drive-Thru Drama” was the idea of the Alden’s Director of Youth Theatre Programs Danielle Van Hook. “This show came together at lightning speed!” she said. “It was challenging to get all of the pieces in place, but this process of building it from the ground up has reminded me of why I fell in love with making theater. We’re telling a thoughtful story in a way we have not before the pandemic began, and hopefully it will bring the audience some much-needed joy.”
How will drive-thru theater happen? Audience members, who are passengers in their vehicles, will be directed to drive a route from actor to actor. There is a diverse cast of ten. The route will accommodate four cars every 15 minutes. That makes for a full performance of Small Change of between 20 and 25 minutes in length.
After the first car sees the first actor perform, the Alden house manager will send it along to the next mini-performance while the first actor starts over with the second car, and so on. “It’s almost like an amusement park ride,” said Van Hook.
The Alden will have in place health and safety precautions that adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ COVID-19 guidelines, indicated Van Hook. “The actors will wear personal protective equipment and will be positioned at least six feet away from the cars and passengers.” There will be a non-contact box office. The Alden house manager will inform patrons to drive five miles an hour and to make sure to be in park when watching a vignette.
Sarah Schallern Treff, Alden Director of Performing Arts, said people who experience Small Change “can witness the birth of a new kind of theatre, connect with the arts, be entertained, and ease back into the direct connection with the arts that theatre offers.”
“There are moments that are touching, funny, and oh so relatable,” said Van Hook. “I can’t but be reminded that we are all connected even when we can’t see it.”
The Alden Theatre’s “Drive-Thru Drama” Small Change runs July 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12, 2020, from 6 to 8 p.m. each night. A limited number of timed tickets are available online.
Tickets are sold online only and must be purchased in advance. Ticket price per vehicle is $10 for non-McLean Community Center tax district residents and $5 for Mclean Community Center tax district residents.