Theater union OKs 2 plans to return to post-virus live shows

Entertainment

NEW YORK (AP) — The national labor union representing stage actors and managers has given the go-ahead for two Massachusetts theaters to resume theatrical performances, offering potential road maps for the national return to live performances.

Actors’ Equity Association on Monday approved a one-man show by Barrington Stage Company and an outdoor production of the musical “Godspell” at Berkshire Theatre Group. Both companies will turn Pittsfield, in western Massachusetts, into a laboratory for how union shows can return to work following the coronavirus pandemic. The shows are scheduled to start in August.

The green light comes as theaters across the country grapple with trying to again create live entertainment. Producers and union members are discussing best practices for audience and workers.

Barrington Stage Company is producing “Harry Clarke,” a one-man show that will employ a performer and a stage manager. It will be held indoors, but seating has been cut from over 500 to 163. The backstage area will be isolated and regularly cleaned.

Nearby, “Godspell” will be presented to 96 audience members in an open-air tent adjacent to The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield and employ a cast of about 10 and two stage managers.

At both performances, patrons will be asked to wear masks and performers and stage managers will be tested for the virus regularly. While some shows have been mounted across the country since the outbreak, none have the stamp of approval from Actors’ Equity Association.

“Taking a safety plan from the page to the real world will require everyone to work together, from the employer to every employee, especially our members,” said Mary McColl, Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association. “Every production is different and will be evaluated on a case by case basis focusing on the safety of our members.”

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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