The Chattanooga Theatre Centre is moving its entire 2020-2021 season to 2021-2022 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, although the theatre is exploring other performance possibilities in the coming months.
“We’ve made the tough decision to pick up our upcoming season in its entirety and move it a year down the road,” says CTC marketing director Julie Van Valkenburg. “There’s a delicate balance in creating a season, and we didn’t want to cherry pick shows to produce this year and upset that balance.
“Plus, the season was selected before the crisis hit, and the majority of the shows could not be staged with the necessary safety precautions we need for our actors on stage,” she says. “We have to consider the safety not just of our audiences, but of our volunteers on stage and off. So that’s a sacrifice we had to make.”
The season was set to open in September with “The Sound of Music” and end in July 2021 with “Something Rotten,” with musicals like “Little Women” and “The Color Purple” in between. Van Valkenburg says the singing involved with musical productions would put actors at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus, which is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets.
Instead, the theatre is looking at opportunities in the fall and winter to produce non-musical plays with small casts that can be produced with social distancing for the safety of the actors, without compromising the artistic integrity of the shows.
“We’re focused on balancing the safety of the live theatre experience with the expectation of quality theatre that the community has come to expect of us,” Van Valkenburg says.
She says the theatre is confident it can exceed recommended standards for the safety of its audiences, including reducing capacity to 33 percent and seating patrons more than six feet apart. Other planned measures include redirecting foot traffic to avoid crowding, conducting temperature checks, instituting no-contact ticketing, requiring masks, and sanitizing before and after performances. The theatre also has touchless faucets, and an HVAC rehab is scheduled.
“We’ll enact those protocols when the time is right, when it’s safe and ethical for us to open our doors again,” Van Valkenburg says.
The CTC is also exploring options for presenting community arts performances on its riverfront lawn.
Posted July 20, 2020