In this new covid world, many different businesses have had to adapt to stay afloat. Offices have implemented working from home, masks are mandatory in a lot of places, and any shops that can sell online have now had to rely on that. But there is one place that was impacted quite hard by the Lockdowns and uncertainty, and that is theatre. It is extremely hard to recreate the feeling of the theatre without actually being there, at what point does the stage become the screen? Even cinemas have been struggling with the restrictions, and there are talks that they might even become obsolete. So what’s next?
Work from Home
As we’ve all come to see, the answer to many covid-related problems are virtual, but for actors of theatre, it’s not so simple. Many can’t meet in groups due to social distancing and mixing of households, and the fact that fewer people will want to (or even be able to) go and see the productions they put on.
But there was one clever couple who figured a way around the restrictions, without breaking them. If they couldn’t go to the stage, then they would bring the stage home – quite literally. The two actors transformed their own home into a make-shift theatre to keep producing shows for devoted fans, and to keep their theatre business alive. They adapted what shows and plays they could into much smaller parts, or put on totally new ones to keep providing their service to the public. Of course, this isn’t going to be the solution for everyone, as it requires time, money, and some digital skill as well, but for the duration of the lockdowns, this is what they did. And not only did this mean that they could continue to create a living, but it also meant that some of those who were unable to attend the theatre was now able to enjoy it. It was a more inclusive environment. It did come with some fallbacks though, such as lack of props, and actors, but they were persistent and devoted to the art, and it paid off. They had many people tuning in to watch their two-man shows.
But changing your home isn’t necessarily the most ideal solution in the long-term, many can’t afford it, and those that can not want to make permanent changes that might affect the value of the property. Although, having people being able to view your home online in such a manner would make for a quick sale of your home – especially if they enjoyed theatre! But an in-home theatre isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so how have other theatres or acting troupes come up with solutions?
For those who had a budget that couldn’t include home improvements (or familial responsibilities), they had to find a different way to adapt to ensure their actors could earn enough to keep going, and this was by streaming their shows. The show could still be acted out but in front of a camera instead of an audience. And they could still sell viewings online for anyone who wanted to see it. This would help anyone who suffered from stage-fright (not likely, but can happen!) and mean that the viewers could have a relaxed night in with their favorite performance. This could only be used as a short-term measure by some to get shows out that had been in preparation for months, but it helped to continue bringing in income for the actors who had worked tirelessly on this performance.
But smaller theatres or productions who couldn’t get this permission had to find yet another way around the new life of covid, and they decided to do something a little more simple. They would create zoom calls where members could tune in to watch the actors do a solo piece, or retell certain stories or monologues instead of a whole play. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who joined in helped to support the actors who had dedicated years to their art, and the fee was much smaller than that of going out to the theatre. Still a win all round!
An in-home theatre isn’t for everyone, but the actors that went that far certainly set the bar high for what can be achieved with some time and dedication, and what it means to truly have passion and love for your career. All the actors who persevered during this difficult time, and who continue to do so, show what the theatre is all about.