How DMV theaters are strategizing for reopening

Despite uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, some venues are moving forward with reopening plans

With the fall season and following seasons still only tentatively planned, arts organizations are taking the time to focus on a reopening strategy that makes the most sense for their staff, performers, and community. Of course, The Actor’s Equity Association has its own rules for a safe reopening that need to be followed. But the exact details are left up to the management of each venue—at least, until a consensus is reached about the viability of plans to open anytime in the near future. The following list reflects current statements released by DMV arts organizations, including a limited number of live performance listings. This list was first published June 26, 2020, and has been continuously updated as information comes in. The most recent update was made at 8 PM on September 14.

THE ALDEN THEATRE
The Alden Theatre in McLean will bring back its unique Drive-Thru Drama performances in September. The new show, From the Ash Baxter Files: The Search for the Stolen Spyglass, will be performed Sept. 11-13, Sept. 18-20 and Sept. 25-27. An interactive mystery suitable for all ages, the show begins when Ash Baxter, the super sleuth of Dakota Riddle High School, needs your help to whittle down the suspect list when his teacher’s priceless spyglass is stolen. Show times are from 4-7 p.m. Tickets are $20, $15 for MCC tax district residents. A limited number of timed tickets are available and must be purchased in advance at www.aldentheatre.org.

Drive-Thru Drama is a new model of theater in a COVID-19 world. It employs a social-distancing format that brings people together for live theater from the comfort of their own cars. Actors will perform one cohesive story through short scenes across the MCC parking lot. Audience members simply roll down their windows and drive the route from actor to actor. The Alden is placing several safety precautions into place to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ COVID-19 guidelines, such as requiring the actors to wear personal protective equipment and setting up the route so that actors are positioned six feet away from the cars and passengers.

For more information visit: www.aldentheatre.org or call 703-790-0123, TTY: 711. For ADA accommodations, contact Patron Services Manager Evelyn Hill at evelyn.hill@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 571-296-8385.

John Harrell and Jessika D. Williams photo by Lauren Parker.

AMERICAN SHAKESPEARE CENTER
ASC is currently presenting socially-distanced outside productions of Othello and Twelfth Night in accordance with safety guidelines through September 27.

The company is operating with Summer 2020 “SafeStart” programming—an evolving program of coronavirus prevention mediations carefully formulated in consultation with an advisory group of medical experts and local officials familiar with the region and with ASC’s facilities. The plan focuses first on establishing a safe workplace environment for rehearsals, production, and administration and then proceeds to create a safe gathering place for audiences.  The ASC SafeStart Visitor’s Guide is available for viewing here on the company’s website.

Highlights of ASC SafeStart include: Two weeks of virtual rehearsals and intentional self-quarantining of the performance company for the duration of the performance season, Significantly reduced occupancy in all venues and workspaces, Universal masking for all audiences and non-performing staff and volunteers, Enhanced hygiene at all facilities and for all individuals, Socially-distanced seating, contactless ticketing and merchandise purchasing, and the elimination of concessions and programs.

BEST MEDICINE REP
Best Medicine Rep plans to begin live performances again starting on January 29, 2021, starting with Prepping for Widowhood and continuing with The Fifth Date in April. You can find all 2021 show information on the BMR website.

CITY OF FAIRFAX THEATRE COMPANY
The City of Fairfax Theatre Company is presenting outdoor productions in accordance with safety guidelines.

Seating is socially distanced as per this image. Tickets must be purchased in groups by ONE purchaser from the household to reserve the square. Squares are 10×10 feet and are spaced 10 feet apart from each other, and 10 feet from the available benches. Please note that there are NO tables or chairs included, except for areas 22-27 on the park benches. Each “table” is a marked spot on the lawn. Masks will be required at all times except when seated in your assigned seating block.

CREATIVE CAULDRON
Creative Cauldron is going forward with their 2020 Summer Cabaret and Concert Series in a new outdoor socially distanced format. Performances will be held at Cherry Hill Park behind the Community Center in the City of Falls Church. Find out more on their site.

Patrons will be asked pre-screening questions at the time of booking – Seating will be assigned in socially distanced (6ft apart) designated areas – Patrons MUST WEAR MASKS to be admitted and KEEP THEM ON during the concert. – Patrons MUST PROVIDE THEIR OWN chairs and beverages (no alcoholic beverages are permitted) – Patrons MUST MAINTAIN social distancing at all times – Contact-less ticketing – All surface areas that patron or artists come in contact with will be disinfected – Artists will use microphones and be distanced from audience to minimize possibility of aerosol spread.

Elan Ensemble presents ‘Arias for the Autumnal Equinox’ on Thursday, September 24 at 5:30 PM.

ELAN ENSEMBLE
Elan Ensemble presents ‘Arias for the Autumnal Equinox’ on Thursday, September 24 at 5:00 PM. This socially-distanced outdoor production will take place at Hammond-Harwood House Museum & Gardens, 19 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis. Relax in the pleasure gardens and be transported by the ornate sounds of the Baroque Era. Join early music specialists Elissa Edwards, soprano & Paula Maust, harpsichord as they perform striking cantatas by Handel and poetic songs by Purcell. Tickets are $50 per person ($45 museum members). You can find seats at hammondharwoodhouse.org.

MORE INFORMATION:
www.elanensemble.org / 410.216.4423
https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/HammondHarwoodHouseAssociatio/ariasfortheautumnalequinox.html

GALA HISPANIC THEATRE
GALA has enacted procedures for safely reopening their doors in September. These guidelines are in adherence with the DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s reopening plan and follow the Centers for Disease and Prevention Control (CDC) recommendations. The theater, lobby, dressing rooms and bathrooms will be cleaned and disinfected daily during the run of performances. All high-traffic areas, doorknobs, and other communal surfaces such as armrests, banisters, and counters, will be disinfected before and after every performance. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting hand wipes will be readily available at the lobby. All theater staff and volunteers will be required to wear masks. Bartenders will be required to wear masks and gloves. Patrons are encouraged to wear masks. Tickets will be available by reservation only. GALA will accommodate up to 75 guests per performance, or 26% capacity of seating during Phase Two. During Phase 3, GALA may increase seating capacity. Entering theatre: Patrons can line up outside the street level entrance and be let in in small numbers, respecting social distancing. Subscribers are encouraged to use the garage entrance, which will be open until 10 minutes before showtime. For wheelchair access, please use the street level entrance. Patrons will show their electronic tickets (on their phone or devices) or printed out tickets to the box office manager,. Goldstar and Today Tix purchasers will be on a list and checked off as they come in. They will be accommodated in keeping with the social distancing practices in place. Patrons will be seated immediately. Our seat assignments will respect the social distancing rule of 6 feet between patrons (every 5th seat). Patrons who have been quarantined together or live together may request, when they reserve their tickets, to be seated together in a group. Tickets can be exchanged for future shows in the season. A limited amount of printed programs will be available by patrons who can get them from an usher or volunteer wearing gloves. Playbills will be available electronically and can be printed out from our website if so desired. The house will open forty-five minutes before showtime. No more than 15 people (15% capacity) will be allowed in the lobby at a time. This may change with changing regulations for social distancing. Drinks can be pre-ordered. One person per group can come to the bar to pick up drinks or patrons can have a server, wearing gloves and a mask, bring the drink to their seat. Intermission will be extended to twenty minutes to allow more time for everyone to use facilities. GALA will provide additional front of house personnel to control the use of restrooms and no more than two people at a time will be let into the restrooms.

GREENBELT ARTS CENTER
As of August 3, 2020, the Greenbelt Arts Center is closed and anticipates remaining so through at least November 30, 2020. Please note that all shows are subject to the ability to safely reopen to the public in accordance with state and local mandates, so they have had to adjust their previously announced 20-21 season. They plan to move forward with the below productions in a socially distanced manner as soon as they can.
This Wonderful Life – A guest production from Ken Falkenhagen
December 4 – December 13, 2020
The Chromatics Holiday Concert
December 18-20, 2020
A Guest Production from Baltimore Theatre Collective – Directed by Tommy Malek, Music Directed by Rachel Sandler
January 8 – January 30, 2021
**Title to be announced when rights are secured**
Ill Met by Moonlight – Presented by the Rude Mechanicals, Adapted and directed by Joshua Engel
February 5 – February 13, 2021
True West – Presented by Prince George’s Repertory, Directed by Chris Dwyer
February 19 – February 27, 2021
The Mountaintop – Directed by Rikki Howie Lacewell, Produced by Pamela Northrup
March 5 – March 27, 2021
Farragut North – Directed by Bob Kleinberg, Produced by Malca Giblin
April 9 – May 1, 2021
Cymbeline – Presented by the Rude Mechanicals, Directed by Erin Nealer
May 7 – May 15, 2021
Merrily We Roll Along – Directed by Roy Hammond, Produced by Malca Giblin
May 28 – June 19, 2021
Patchwork Girl of Oz – Directed by Eliot Malumuth, Produced by Jenna Jones Paradis
July 2 – July 24, 2021

THE KENNEDY CENTER
The Kennedy Center’s famed Opera House will come back to life with a unique concert experience that puts the audience on stage. Artists will perform from a stage extension built into the front of the Orchestra-seating level of the hall while concert-goers, entering through the wide loading doors on the Center’s front plaza, are seated in physically distanced pairs on the Opera House stage to watch performances set against the iconic red interior of the theater. These hour-long, intermission-less concerts will take place approximately once per week for a ticketed audience of under 200 once the District of Columbia reaches phase three of reopening.

The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) makes its anticipated return to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with three Friday concerts in December 2020. On December 4 and 11 NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda will conduct two concerts with surprise programs to be announced from the stage. Then, on December 18, Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke will lead the orchestra in a Holiday Pops program. These December concerts will be livestreamed and will be performed in front of a live, ticketed, limited capacity, physically distanced audience, should D.C. be in phase three of reopening.

At the REACH, patrons are invited to enjoy a snack overlooking the Potomac or spread out a blanket on the grass with a glass of wine from Victura Park, a pop-up wine garden and café curated by restauranteurs Ian Hilton, Eric Hilton, and chef Erik Bruner-Yang.

As D.C. enters later phases of reopening, the River Pavilion will play home to Sunset Concerts. This series of free hour-long concerts will take place on a stage inside the pavilion with the glass walls opened up for the enjoyment of audiences outdoors. Performances will include select Wednesday evening Millennium Stage/Arts Across America shows, a performance by the WNO Cafritz Young Artists, jazz, hip hop, musical theater, and more.

In addition, local yoga instructors will utilize the expansive green roof of the REACH to lead movement and wellness classes on the Upper Lawn in September and October on select Saturday mornings. Performances and yoga are weather dependent and subject to D.C. phase three of reopening.

THE LITTLE THEATRE OF ALEXANDRIA
LTA is moving forward with their Fall productions, with precautions.

MOSAIC THEATRE COMPANY
Mayor Bowser’s ReOpen DC Stage 2 would allow Mosaic Theater to welcome audiences of up to 50 people into theaters for live performances. Top priority is the health and safety of our patrons, performers and staff, and safety protocols will in place.

Reduced Seating Capacity – Limited Ticket availability
Socially Distant Seating with six feet between family groups
Masks Required for entry and worn throughout facility
Contact-Free Experience utilizing digital tickets and playbills
Multiple Entrances Utilized to limit wait times and congestion
Lobby Queuing with marked six foot separations
Rigorous Cleaning regimens between performances

Mosaic will only reopen as permitted and instructed by the District authorities. While no one knows yet exactly when this will happen, Mosaic is working with expert consultants, healthcare professionals, and an epidemiologist to ensure comprehensive measures are in place. In the meantime, please participate in ongoing Virtual Public Programming offerings.

Performance photo provided by the National Chamber Ensemble.

NATIONAL CHAMBER ENSEMBLE
The National Chamber Ensemble has been hard at work finalizing its 14th season, while adhering to local regulations and keeping the health and safety of patrons and artists first and foremost. NCE is prepared for the possibility that some of the upcoming season will include virtual performances, but as of now, they invite you to join them on a grand
“European Musical Vacation” of five exceptional performances! NCE’s season will take an amazing journey through some of the most beautiful European cities and their musical masterworks, and will present the most affordable trip to Europe for all. Their season brochure and website describe each stop on the musical journey, and include information on ordering individual tickets and season subscriptions. As a “thank you” for ongoing support, they have lowered subscription prices substantially and waived booking fees. A subscription or individual ticket allows you to attend any live concerts in person OR watch the exclusive concert video approximately a week later in the comfort of your home. Each concert video will also include an invitation to take part in a Zoom Virtual Wine and Cheese Reception featuring performance highlights and live conversation with the artists. Order tickets here.

NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Sunday, September 6 at 7:00 PM, more than 30 musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) will perform a safe, physically distant concert on the Kennedy Center Concert Hall stage to be livestreamed at Event’s DC’s Park Up DC, a pop-up drive-in movie and entertainment experience at the RFK Campus Lot 5 (2400 East Capitol St NE, Washington, D.C. 20003). The performance, which is in place of the NSO’s annual Labor Day Capital Concerts performance, is FREE to attend and is open up to 350 cars. Each car will need to be registered via the Park Up DC site in order to attend. This event also marks the first concert simulcast at Park Up DC. The performance will also be recorded and broadcast on Labor Day (September 7) via the Kennedy Center’s Social Media channels at 12 noon.

NU SASS PRODUCTIONS
Nu Sass Productions presents Backyard Arts. Homeowners can choose from a rotating cast of solo performers to come do a show in their backyard. Nu Sass will send a performer and a stage manager to present a low-tech solo show. You can get more info on their website.

  • All performers, stage managers, and audience’s will sign a contract ensuring safety for one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Audiences must be able to provide a large enough space to ensure the safety of the performer and audience
  • Audience will be limited to a single household.
  • Audience will select multiple dates and times, to allow for booking conflicts and rain dates. We’ll do our best to accommodate your first choice.
  • New shows will be added as artist’s become available.
  • You can sign up for a performance of White-ish here!
  • You can sign up for a performance of Wombat Drool here!

STAGECOACH THEATRE COMPANY
StageCoach Theatre Company is dipping a toe back into the water with a small-scale but enthusiastic production of Clue. The company is taking precautions to ensure the safety of actors and audience members. They will limit seating to 30 people in a space that normally seats up to 70. They’ve removed the first two rows of seats and are spacing audience members by groups. They have also outfitted the cast of 10 actors with clear face masks and face shields for rehearsals and performances.

Clue will run weekends Sept. 12 through Sept. 27. Tickets are $25 and reservations are required. Go to stagecoachtc.com/clue-on-stage for tickets and information.

Photo provided by StageCoach Theatre.

STRATHMORE
Strathmore has announced five major works for 2020-2021. While all three Strathmore venues are temporarily closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Strathmore will continue tracking regulations and reevaluate opening when it is deemed safe to do so.

In a creative approach, Strathmore will open the season outside by taking advantage of their green space with an outdoor installation by Australian digital artist Craig Walsh. Monuments: Creative Forces will be a full campus open-air experience in which digital images will be projected throughout the Strathmore grounds. The images will feature six regional individuals (chosen by Strathmore) whose work and artistic endeavors are changing the landscape of our community in fundamental ways. Moving images of their faces will be matched to trees on the Strathmore campus. (October 2–25)

Singer-songwriters Anais Mitchell (Hadestown), Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening and American Psycho) and Shaina Taub (upcoming The Devil Wears Prada) come together for Making the Music, an evening of songs and stories in an intimate and unique collaborative concert highlighting the intersection of Broadway and rock ’n’ roll. (February 19, 2021)

Inspired by historical sources in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, including slave narratives and early minstrelsy, Songs of Our Native Daughters is a stunning program that shines new light on African American women’s stories of struggle, resistance, and hope. Written and performed by Grammy-nominated musician Rhiannon Giddens, in collaboration with banjo players Leyla McCalla, Allison Russel,l and Amythyst Kiah, the musicians re-interpret and create new works from old ones. With unflinching, razor-sharp honesty, they confront sanitized views about America’s history of slavery, racism, and misogyny from a powerful, black female perspective. (March 15)

Strathmore and Woolly Mammoth Theatre, two leading institutions in the DC region committed to innovation in the performing arts, join forces for the first time to present a concert version of the powerful work, Parable of the Sower. Giving life to Octavia E. Butler’s 1993 science fiction novel of the same name, the work reveals deep insights on gender, race, and the future of human civilization. The story centers around Lauren Olamina, who lives in a not-so-distant America where climate change has driven society on the brink of extinction to violence. When she loses both family and home, Lauren ventures out unprotected. Her desperate fight for survival leads to a startling vision of human destiny which births “Earthseed,” a new faith based on the idea that “God is Change.” (April 1& 2)

Inspired by the Stono Rebellion of 1739, Step Afrika!’s Drumfolk explores this little-known event in history that would forever transform African American life and culture. When Africans lost the right to use their drums, the beats found their way into the body of the people, the Drumfolk. New percussive forms took root leading to the development of some of our country’s most distinct performance traditions like ring shout, tap, and stepping. Drumfolk was originally scheduled to have its DC premiere with Strathmore presenting the work throughout Montgomery County and at UDC in June 2020. (June 2021, date TBD)

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