Road To Reopening: North Coast Repertory Resumes Performances With DANCING LESSONS

The theatre is celebrating its 40th season.

By: Sep. 10, 2021
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Road To Reopening: North Coast Repertory Resumes Performances With DANCING LESSONS

BroadwayWorld is checking in with theaters around the country as they prepare to reopen this summer. Next in our series we check in with North Coast Repertory's Artistic Director David Ellenstein.

Born into a theatrical family, David has worked in theatres across the country. Before joining North Coast Rep in 2003 he served as Artistic Director for the Los Angeles Repertory Company and the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company (AJTC). He is a veteran of over 250 theatrical productions.

How has the pandemic most affected your company?

Spending the better part of 18 months without a live audience. We managed to keep the vast majority of our staff employed throughout by shifting our focus to endeavors that were done without our patrons being present. We had to be nimble and think outside the box. I am proud of our entire organization for their ability to adapt and stay flexible. We learned and stretched our skill set and scope.

Have you done any streaming theatre/events?

Perhaps as much or more than any theatre in the United States. We created and streamed 8 fully produced filmed productions that were streamed to our subscribers and single ticket buyers. We also recorded more than three dozen "Theatre Conversations" with theatre artists from across the country. Actors, directors, playwrights and artistic directors.

What have the audience reactions to any digital performances been like?

Our subscribers and patrons have been overwhelmingly positive in their response. There were a few who opted out, because they just didn't want to watch theatre on their screens, but for the most part they were impressed by the quality of the productions and were grateful to be receiving product and connection to the theatre.

What have you got coming up you're most excited to share with audiences?

A full season of live theatre! On Sept 8th we began previews for our first production of our 40th anniversary season. We are so excited to welcome our loyal audience back.

How did your venue come up with a reopening plan/covid safety plan?

Following CDC, State, County and union guidelines, we have upgraded our ventilation system, put in place sanitation measures and adopted a proof of vaccination or negative covid test result for entry. Also a mask requirement. This is hopefully a short term policy that can be relaxed as the vaccination rate increases and the delta variant recedes. We also purchased three industrial air purifiers for our space. We want our patrons to feel as safe and comfortable as possible when they return.

Will there be any adjustments in capacity or seating/vaccination or testing requirements?

We will also be complying with the AEA safety rule of no actors within 6 feet of the audience.

Will there be any changes to the on-stage aspects of the shows in response to the pandemic?

North Coast Rep will not be hiring any unvaccinated artists or staff. All current employees are vaccinated. Likewise - all volunteers must be vaccinated. Extra cleaning and disinfecting will be routine on and off stage.

Were there any COVID considerations in programming the upcoming season - selecting titles, etc?

Yes - Dancing Lessons by Mark St Germain opens our season. By design it is a two character play. Our second production , Ben Butler by Richard Strand, is a four character play. These two plays were chosen to open the season not only for their merit, but for their smaller cast sizes. Our larger shows are scheduled for later in the season.

Will there be any changes to your ticketing policies, flexible rescheduling, etc?

We are always flexible regarding exchanges and rescheduling. We know the proof of vaccination and mask policy is a problem for a small number of our patrons. We are offering full refunds for ticket buyers who are not willing to comply.

When and what are you re-opening with?

Dancing Lessons by Mark Srt Germain, which has its first preview on September 8th.

What are you most looking forward to?

When the pandemic hit we were one week into rehearsal for THe Homecoming by Harold Pinter. We had a great cast and an amazing first week. Reassembling that group to finish what we started - and the world premiere of our new musical The Remarkable Mister Holmes which has been twice postponed and is ready to romp across our stage in the summer of 2022.

How have you remained engaged with your audience about the return to the stage?

We started with the Theatre Conversations series which much of our audience really enjoyed - the behind the scenes aspect of what we do. We regularly sent emails with videos from myself and other staff members, updating our patrons to the goings on at North Coast Rep as well as our evolving covid policies and programming. Extra phone calls to patrons as well.

How can audience members learn more and stay up to date?

Our website is always updated for programing, covid safety policies and news. Our box office number is 858-481-1055


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