Regional Spotlight: How Epic Theatre Company 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.
Today we shine a spotlight on Epic Theatre Company in Rhode Island.
First of all, I want to check in on the health and well being of everyone at Epic Theatre Company. How is everyone doing during this difficult time?
We're doing okay. It's a daily adjustment to an ever-changing new normal. So much of theater is planning, and right now, we're not able to make any long-term plans, so that's weighing on us, but we're focused on being grateful that we have the ability to come back from this whenever we're able to.
What do the days look like right now for those who work at Epic Theatre Company?
Right now it's a lot of digital communication between all of us checking in to see how we're doing and then to produce digital content. Nearly all of our staff has taken part in that new content creation, and it's been very rewarding to see everybody offer something to that effect.
How much planning is going on both short term and long term for the theater? I would like to hear about the immediate plans for the theater, it's upcoming productions etc., and what the theater is hoping/planning for in future months.
As it stands, we did some retooling of our schedule so that our April production of "I Can Speak", which was a world premiere, will now be happening in August. We cancelled our June production of "All the Way" and moved our May production of "The Laramie Project" into June. As of now, we are still planning on having productions beginning in June, but we understand that may change as time goes on. I'm not looking any further than what we'd announced, because I'm interested to see what the next few months look like, but I'm glad we're able to buy ourselves some time. There won't be any work happening on productions in the month of April, and I'm hoping that over the course of the month, we get a better idea of long-term feasibility.
Do you have plans to bring any previously filmed productions/upcoming events/classes etc. online?
Filming productions is always tricky, because unless you own the content, you're really not allowed to put anything online--unless you can get permission to do so, but publishing houses have not been very receptive to letting their content online. At Epic, we do have a lot of original work that we own, but we're thinking logically about what people want to see right now. So many of us are engaging with the world now through our phones or, maybe, through a laptop, and I haven't found any creative ideas yet that would get me or anyone I know to sit in front of a computer screen for two hours--let alone a phone. So that informs the kind of content we're looking at creating. It doesn't mean we won't ever look to making longer content, but it would have to be very dynamic in order to convince people to make that kind of commitment to it using a platform that was sort of designed for abbreviated mental engagement.
What is the best way for people to help Epic Theatre Company right now?
We have a Patreon where we've been expanding our digital programming, and what we love about it is that once you sign up to be an Epic supporter, you can contribute as little as $3.50 a month, which might not seem like a lot, but really adds up. Plus, rather than just a donation, you get lots of exclusive content that can keep you entertained while also keeping you connected with us.