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Regional Spotlight: How the Folger Theatre is Working Through The Global Health Crisis

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Regional Spotlight: How the Folger Theatre 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're checking in with Washington, D.C.'s Folger Theatre, with Marketing/PR Manager, Peter Eramo.


First of all, I want to check in on the health and wellbeing of everyone at The Folger. How is everyone doing during this difficult time?

The folks at the Folger are working remotely for the time-being, like so many others, and doing the best that they can under these difficult circumstances. The Folger team has been virtually communicating regularly and being as safe as we can be. Keeping spirits high and remaining quite busy.

What do the days look like right now for those who work at The Folger?

We are keeping up with the changing global, national, and regional news on a daily basis. With regard to our public programming, our staff is making alternative plans for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, as well as prepping to make adjustments, as needed, to our upcoming 2020/21 seasons of theater, music, and poetry. We have cancelled two of our poetry readings--our reading with Terrance Hayes at The Phillips Collection will be pre-recorded, and we will release that widely at a later date. Our annual Folger Poetry Board Reading, Billy Collins at the National Gallery of Art in May, will now be next season's Poetry Board Reading (date to be determined). At present, we are waiting for more definitive news on the pandemic and how it affects the Greater Washington region, and will plan the announcements of our coming events accordingly. We are still taking subscriptions to our 2020/21 seasons of theater and consort, which have been on sale since earlier this year.

How much planning is going on both short term and long term for the theater? What are the immediate plans, upcoming productions, etc.?

With the Folger Shakespeare Library scheduled to begin its multi-year Renovation Project (check the Folger website for more on this), our 2019/20 season of theater, fortunately ended earlier than usual for us - March 1, 2020. So thankfully, we did not have to postpone or cancel any performances. We are very lucky. For many months, we have been preparing for our next two seasons of Folger Theatre being "on the road" and staged in various exciting venues across the DC region. Our first production, A Midsummer Night's Dream is scheduled to begin performances on July 7 at the National Building Museum. This production is in concert with the National Building Museum's Summer Block Party exhibition, Shakespeare's Playhouse. Right now, like the rest of the theater community, we are in wait-and-see mode. We are moving ahead, as best as we can, planning for performances to begin as scheduled, but preparing to make alternative plans should that be needed. We have held our on-sale ticket date for this production, and should be ready to announce when that date is soon.

The remainder of our season "on the road" features Teller and Aaron Posner's The Tempest, at Round House Theatre in the fall. Folger Theatre is in collaboration with Round House Theatre for this regional premiere. Right now, dates have remained and no change in scheduling has been made. The same can be said of our final show of the season, Nathan the Wise, a Folger Theatre co-production with Theater J in the winter of 2021.

As days and weeks go by, I am sure we will all (hopefully) know much more and schedule our events accordingly, keeping the safety of our patrons and staff at the forefront of our minds.

Do you have plans to bring any previously filmed productions/upcoming events/classes etc. online?

We have made Folger Theatre's 2008 historic production of Macbeth available to stream for free through July 1. Users can watch the full production (directed by Aaron Posner and Teller), plus eight behind-the-scenes featurettes at https://www.folger.edu/video-macbeth-folger-theatre.

Also through July 1, the Folger is making our full-cast audio recordings of seven Shakespeare plays free to stream. Visit www.folger.edu to listen to Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and Richard III. Users can also go to the Folger website to read the full, searchable text of all of Shakespeare's plays, along with scenes summaries, essays, and textual notes.

We're doing a weekly Wednesday webinar with secondary school English teachers and virtual #FolgerTea on Thursdays at 3pm EST with scholars around the world. We hope to move more conversations online, from panel discussions to lectures. We'll continue to explore the best ways online to share love of Shakespeare and his world.

What is the best way for people to help The Folger right now?

Enjoy - and share with others - our resources, from reading and listening to the plays and poems on The Folger Shakespeare to our Shakespeare Unlimited podcast interviews, and connect with us on social media, or subscribe to one of our newsletters. As a non-profit, gifts and membership are always important, as is the power of being part of our community online and the promise to join us for a performance or reading in the future.


Learn more about The Folger at folger.edu/folger-theatre. Check out their streaming production of Macbeth here, and their audio recordings of seven Shakespeare plays here!

Donate to the theatre here!


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