Monday, March 23, 2020

How StoreFront Theaters are Dealing With the Coronavirus Crisis

Just a quick note about a fantastic article that recently appeared on the WTTW website, which talked about how storefront theatres in Chicago are dealing with the cancellations necessary to deal with COVID-19.

Photo from TeenAge Dick Livestream.
Chicago is  the storefront theatre capital of the country, with over 200 theatres in Chicago, and each one is taking a different (and often creative) approach to solving the problem of what to do when the audience can't come to you.

The article on WTTW (link below) highlights several different tactics that theatres are taking, from delaying productions to canceling productions to even leaving the sets in place and praying that this hiatus is short.

It also goes into shocking detail about the magnitude of the loss-- one theatre is out over $80,000 in lost revenues, including two different tours that have been canceled.  That's for the next month alone!  And insurance is not paying for that.  And many theatres have not yet had their gala, which typically raises 20% of their income for the year.

One of my favorite stories in the article is a positive one from Theatre Wit, who were producing the Midwest premiere of Teenage Dick by Mike Lew (a hilarious re-telling of Richard III, set in a high school, with a cerebral palsy survivor who wants to be class president.)  They were all set to open the show, when it became clear that the Corona Virus was going to put a kibosh on their plans.

This is a screen-capture of the Theater Wit website, which explains more about how remote viewing works.
Rather than canceling the show, they videotaped the show (without an audience), and with permission of Actor's Equity and the actors, each night that the show was supposed to be on, they are selling tickets to a streamed production of the show.  (It's not live-streamed, as it is the tape, but you can only see it that night.  In addition, after each show, there is a cast Q&A  Livestream on  that ups the interactive potential of the show dramatically.   And the cast and crew are still getting paid!

Buy TeenAge Dick on Amazon
(boy, could that sound any worse?)
Furthermore, some of the first tickets purchased for this show were from NY, suggesting that this could be a future income stream for plays, extending the boundaries (and marketing) of a play, assuming that they can get continue to get Equity approval for these remote showings.

I love this kind of creativity in the face of adversity!

Read the full article at

And you can read the Chicago Tribune review of the experience of watching Teenage Dick online here:

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