Hello… A “covid year” later, we have been repeatedly asked by patrons and other theaters, arts organizations across the country how The Footlights Theatre can be open, producing live theater- and what do we do to make it a safe and healthy experience to the best of our abilities. Most days I ask myself the same question, given the daily stress and anxiety this pandemic has caused me- and all those involved in the Arts. So- here are my answers.
The Footlights Theatre went above and beyond the Maine state restrictions, protocol, and guidelines. We are Maine State approved to be open and present live productions because anyone who enters the theater (at any time) and those attending the shows are required to wear a mask at all times. If they do not have one, the Footlights Theatre will provide a free one. The capacity of the Footlights Theatre is reduced to 25 patrons (normal capacity 75) for social distancing.
The actors (4 or less) perform behind glass barriers.
We purchased two new HEPA air purifier / sanitizer systems with medical grade filtration for the theater, which are “on” throughout the performance. The entire theater is professionally disinfected, sanitized, and cleaned by a cleaning service. All theater seats, bathrooms, lobby, on stage and backstage areas are professionally disinfected, sanitized and cleaned before and after every performance.
The entrance door to the theater opens 15 minutes prior to the performance and patrons go directly to their seats. One person in each reservation gives their name and contact information upon entering. We take temperatures with a non-contact thermometer if needed. Hand sanitizer is available and encouraged throughout the theater.
Productions last no more than 90 minutes and there is no intermission during any production. No concessions are served. Bathrooms have flushable toilet seat covers and are stocked with disinfecting wipes, spray, and hand sanitizer.
Our actors, one tech person and one house manager/box office person follow all protocol at and outside the theater and are very respectful of each other. Rehearsals are limited and follow all protocol. There is no physical contact between actors.
Please note that our seats are not secured to the floor, so we reconfigure the seating arrangement (based on how many parties and number of people in each party) with each performance to ensure protocol is maintained.
I closed the Footlights Theatre on March 13th, 2020, halfway through the run of a sold-out show, and with a major musical in rehearsals. It has been beyond stressful. We survive primarily on box office receipts, so with no show, there was no box office which meant no income. Thankfully, we reopened July 17th, 2020 and brought in some very much needed cash flow- but it's been our patrons and donors that have been extremely generous in helping us keep the theater venue open with their contributions. Without them, we would have had to close permanently. The Footlights Theatre, now halfway through its 8th season, has stressfully survived on 25 seats at $20 per ticket- sometimes we sell out, sometimes we are playing to less than 10 people. But we have kept the theater from closing. There is no extra money, but the doors will not close- we will not be a covid casualty.
There is now a light at the proverbial end of the tunnel- normalcy (whatever that may be) will resume. Hold on. Hang tight. Support each other. Don’t give up. We CAN survive this. Stay safe… stay healthy.
Michael J. Tobin Executive Artistic Director The Footlights Theatre 190 US Route 1, Falmouth, ME. 04105 (207) 747-5434 email@example.com www.thefootlightstheatre.com
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