Gamut Theatre Group Suspends Public Activity Through September 1
In support of efforts to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,
Gamut Theatre, a professional regional theatre located in downtown Harrisburg,
PA announced today that it is canceling all public programming through at least
September 1, 2020.
On March 12, Gamut canceled all public programming through April 30, which
included the closing weekend of its spring Mainstage production of Henrik Ibsen's
An Enemy of the People and its Young Acting Company production of Cinderella,
featuring 50 students ages 6 - 18 years old.
Gamut's latest decision terminates many of the theatre's most popular annual
programs, including Free Shakespeare in the Park, Gamut Theatre Summer
Academy, and Popcorn Hat Players Children's Theatre summer show.
"No one knows for certain when COVID-19 will reach its apex and how long it will
take to come down off of that," said Melissa Nicholson, Co-Founder/Executive
Director. "But I think we can all agree that it will be a significant amount of time
before we can safely put 50 students from a five-county area together onstage,
backstage, and in classrooms. Likewise, hosting 150-200 patrons at a time in one
building is not going to be prudent anytime soon. Gamut is not willing to take that
scientific models and watched closely what was happening in other countries, like
China, particularly in regards to reopening entertainment venues. "Until a vaccine is developed, there's going to be additional waves of this virus,
which will make us reexamine what it means to put actors together onstage, and
how we will congregate the audience in a safe way," said Clark. "It's going to be a
slow, difficult period of trial and error." In the interim, Gamut has offered its building to city, county, and state officials for
community use should it be needed. "It's sitting there unused and won't be utilized as a theatre for quite some time,"
said Melissa. "If it can be useful in any way for the purpose of combating the
spread of the virus or helping sick people get well, we gladly offer it in service to
our community." Gamut will explore alternative programming options during the shutdown period,
including a virtual online Gamut Theatre Summer Academy, Master classes in
Shakespeare study, and educational resources for teachers to use in their online classes. The company has maintained an online presence since it shut its doors;
for example, each Wednesday a different Core Company member presents a
talent, skill, or interest to share with the general public through social media, and
Clark Nicholson adds a new chapter each week to How We Came to Run the
Gamut published on Gamut's website.
Gamut is planning for the 2020-21 season with an eye toward minimal expense
and maximum safety for all participants, whether an actor, student, or patron.
"Making the decision now to cancel through the summer gives us the time we
need to re-group and rethink how to successfully plan for September and beyond.
When this is all over, people will have a great need to go out and gather in their
favorite places. Our job right now is to make sure that there is still a Gamut
Theatre to come back to. We have always been extremely creative in our problem
solving. And I think that may be our most important asset at the moment."
Gamut Theatre is the combined theatre company of Popcorn Hat Players
Children's Theatre and Harrisburg Shakespeare Company. Gamut's mission is to
tell classic stories in new and exciting ways. More information at www.gamuttheatre.org.