Regional Spotlight: How Cincinnati Playhouse is Working Through the Global Health Crisis
Now more than ever it is important to support theater and do our part to keep the art form that we love so much alive and as thriving as it can be during these unprecedented times. While the global health crisis has temporarily put the theater world on hold, pausing all live performances and large gatherings to help stop the spread of COVID-19, theaters around the country have taken a hit. During this time of adjusting to our temporary new normal, theaters are figuring out how to take care of their team, and discovering the best ways to virtually bring theater to audiences.
Through our regional theater interview series, we are checking in with theaters all around the country, talking to them about how they are handling these difficult circumstances, learning what they are doing to move forward, and discovering the best way for people to help regional theaters during this time.
First of all, I want to check in on the health and wellbeing of everyone at the Cincinnati Playhouse. How is everyone doing during this difficult time?
Thank you for asking! We are doing well and making this ever-changing situation work. The staff has been staying safe and healthy so far.
What do the days look like right now for those who work at the Cincinnati Playhouse?
We have been working remotely. Offices in Ohio were allowed to open as of May 4 if the recommended safety procedures are in place. Our plan is for everyone who is successfully working from home now to keep doing so, and we are putting the final touches on our safety procedures to bring back some staff to the offices and perhaps into our scene shop as well.
How much planning is going on both short term and long term for the theater?
With so much currently unknown, we are doing our best to plan for a variety of scenarios. We moved the last two shows of the 2019-20 season to the beginning of the 2020-21 season. It was a theatrical and financial decision all rolled into one. Murder on the Orient Express was a co-production with Indiana Repertory Theatre, and it was already up and running there. Becoming Dr. Ruth was just starting its run at Theater J. Our audiences were excited for both shows, so shifting them into next season made the most sense. Our hope is to open after Labor Day as usual. That said, we are planning for other scenarios in the event that public gatherings of a certain size are still banned come the fall. And we are of course discussing safety and social-distancing measures. Making sure everyone is safe is our number-one priority for audiences, staff and artists.
Do you have plans to bring any previously filmed productions/upcoming events/classes etc. online?
We were able to film our production of Destiny of Desire for streaming before we had to shut it down. Outside of that, we aren't going to put up previously filmed productions because they weren't filmed with the intent of streaming. Our Education and Community Engagement team is working on a variety of virtual offerings for families. We have our Monologues of Hope project, in which we commissioned 10 Cincinnati-based playwrights to pen original short monologues to be performed by Cincinnati-based actors. I'm also taking our Playhouse Perspectives discussion series to Zoom. We just released our first episode in which I'm in conversation with our Wendy C. Goldberg.
What is the best way for people to help the Cincinnati Playhouse right now?
If you had tickets to one of the cancelled productions, donate them back or transfer them to next season. To date, the vast majority of audiences have either rolled over their tickets to next season or donated them back. That speaks volumes of the loyalty of our audiences, and we're really grateful. We have also continued with our capital campaign to build a new mainstage theatre complex, which is set to open in the fall of 2022. In fact, prep work for the construction has continued on schedule during our shut-down.