COVID Adjustments in the Theatre Community


Theatres are empty worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prolific stagecraft. Draining rehearsals. Months upon months of preparation and full-time devotion. All can make for a magical evening of stunning theatricals until a simple virus intrudes and wipes the stage clean.

Bingham’s very own drama club, along with theater organizations all across the country, are now looking from the stage to the camera as they seek productions safe for their beloved audiences. From live performances to pre-recorded films, theaters have been met with particularly disorienting adjustments due to COVID-19. These modifications have changed the drama experience more than anyone could have anticipated.

Through this pandemic, the way the world has functioned overall has shifted as we’ve faced safety procedures such as social distancing and wearing masks. Prior to the coronavirus, theater groups would host large cast meetings, rehearsals and in-person auditions, all of which have been forced to the back burner due to pandemic regulations. Actors now take on an agenda predominantly online, along with socially distanced in-person meetings. These changes have proven to deeply change the preparation prior to their shows. Though the most effect has been on the dynamics between the actors themselves.

Theater is a particularly entangling endeavor as cast mates immerse themselves in constructing not only characters, but perceptible relationships between those characters. Normally, the hours of practice and growth of characters within the theater would create strong relationships between the actors, but social distancing has made that more difficult to obtain as they must refrain from any close contact. This alteration can be noticed not only from the body on the stage, but from the crowd as well. 

Elise Jones, who acted as Amy in “Little Women” (2019), along with several other lead roles in productions at Hale Center Theatre in Sandy, Utah, expressed to me her perspective on how COVID adjustments have affected performances. “It’s very important, especially to me when I’m performing, to hear the feedback, like physically hear it, and see it,” says Jones, “With masks on in the audience it’s hard to feel as engaged and with so many less people there’s not as much energy so it just feels a little diminished, I guess.” As Elise has conveyed, the relationship between the stage performers and the audience remains incredibly important, but COVID stresses have tainted the watcher’s ability to empathize with characters. This struggle, along with the many others due to COVID, have perturbed many more than just Jones.

These outcomes have gravely affected theaters all throughout our community; when we take a step back, though, we can see many more challenges, even nationwide. Colossal corporations such as Disney have had to cut down on their theater community, letting actors from their stages at Disneyland go. One of the most influential and epochal theater groups in the world, Broadway, has also taken a sizable blow from pandemic issues. After closing for the rest of the year, their funding has dropped dangerously low.

 “The Actors Fund, which serves the needs of entertainment workers, received fifteen thousand requests for aid in the first three months of the pandemic, and has distributed some thirteen million dollars,” says Micheal Shulman from “The New Yorker.” Millions of dollars have had to be dedicated to keeping entertainment afloat through this time.

Jones explained to me how Broadway shows are now being filmed. She predicts that they’ll have increasing numbers of their shows recorded and sent to platforms like Disney Plus or Netflix, similar to the way the musical “Hamilton” was. If they were to do this, it would allow a much wider audience to watch productions they may not have otherwise have had the opportunity to see. People internationally who perhaps can’t afford to travel to Broadway or even purchase a show ticket may now have the opportunity to experience the magic of their performances. Although COVID-19 has made it difficult to keep afloat, theater is still valuable and those who have a passion for the art will be sure to keep it going through difficult conditions like these.

Through everything the notorious coronavirus has changed, postponed and destroyed, humans ultimately have used their passions to inspire resilience through it all. Although the theater community is experiencing copious alterations that are more bad than good, their adoration for the art has proved dominant. They will undoubtedly continue to claim their voices on the stage.