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Practicalities of re-opening in Autumn 2020 - or thereafter?


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I don’t know if this has been discussed elsewhere, so I am starting a new thread.  I hope that is ok.  

 

I’m sure we have all been thinking about how theatres might open when they can.  Timing of course is unknown at this stage.
 

I realise it’s totally disheartening for performers to dance to an empty auditorium.  So I am assuming that is not an option being considered.
 

The point of my post is to ask if anyone knows whether theatres are considering opening with a partial ‘socially distanced’ audience ... say 1/2 or even less capacity?   (I am assuming masks for audience members will be compulsory, and people coughing etc will have to leave.)
 

And then I also wonder .... if theatres can top this up by live-streaming performances at a cost?  I know I’d pay say £20 to watch often.  E.g. I would have wanted to watch each of the RB and ENB Swan Lake casts at least once.  That would go some way to compensating for missing out on tickets for in-house seats.  I would still hope to attend as many live performances as ‘before’.

 

Thoughts?
 

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Its a very interesting point to make and something I have given a lot of thought about since the start of the lockdown in the UK. There are so many aspects of life that cannot really function with social distancing - schools, all professional sports, cinemas, the arts in general, church services, public transport, the list goes on and on. Other than schools, if people aren't able to attend in sufficient numbers these activities can't survive indefinitely.

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, oncnp said:

Royal Albert Hall doesn't seem to think social distancing is economically feasible

 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/09/royal-albert-hall-facing-closure-social-distancing-rules-put/

 

I read that yesterday, makes me wonder what happened to theatres and the Albert Hall in 1920-1 after Spanish flu.

 

Short term I guess many of us will be wearing ROH branded PPE

 

 

goggles.png

Edited by Rob S
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A very pertinent piece. Thank you for posting it, toursenlair. 
I think we can be sure that protecting the artists is in the forefront of company planning for the future. It’s just that we’re not seeing it - nor, for that matter, is anything emerging about managing audiences. And all that while keeping organisations afloat financially.

Being Prime Minister is an exceptionally unenviable job at the moment; running. ballet/dance company is surely close behind if not even more challenging.

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Posted (edited)

I cannot imagine theatres reopening before spring or summer 2021, when a COVID vaccine may be readily available. Audiences and the production teams (including performers) would not be able to maintain safe distances. I hope I’m wrong.

 

With regard to audience distancing and the economics of each performance...how can people be asked to, say, pay for two seats — their own and one of the empty seats beside him/her? Or is the government going to subsidize each empty seat? Think about it. Every other seat at ROH staying empty. Who’s paying for the empty seats? If the answer is the public, then the serious arts will become more elitist than ever.

 

Solution? I would happily pay a decent reasonable amount to watch live or rare filmed performances online. After this “COVID Season,” I believe that the streaming of performing arts is here to stay. Three cheers, I say, for the overwhelming majority of ballet lovers who don’t reside in New York City or any of the dozen other cities on earth with regular world-class ballet. One thing that I would not miss: shelling out money for travel and hotels (and meals and all else), for the chance to see new ballets or favorite old ballets with new casts. Regardless of this or future pandemics: bring on the streaming!

Edited by Jeannette
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Surely seeing a performance live in front of you is an experience in itself - whether it be ballet, opera, a concert or even sport? 

 

I might be wrong but I don't think paying for streaming is a long term substitute to live events with an audience. 

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3 hours ago, Jeannette said:

Three cheers, I say, for the overwhelming majority of ballet lovers

 

I won't cheer for the many ballet companies to disappear, for the many dancers without a job then. I already hate staring at a screen instead of real people on a stage.

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Even when watching my favorite dancers on screen, I become disengaged very quickly. It might just be my brain though -- watching anything via screen loses the palpable energy/magic one feels when sharing the same physical surroundings as those performing. 

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Posted (edited)

While I appreciate the chance to learn something about companies, dancers and productions I've never, or only rarely, seen, and on occasion to revisit, in sharper detail than my memory nowadays permits, my experience in actually having attended the same performance that is now being streamed, there is no way for me that watching a video can ever come near experiencing a live performance--it's not just the loss of the third dimension, or the fact that no matter how skillful the camera & editing work, there are inevitably choices made that would not be mine, but the tangible excitement of a live performance--those moments when one holds one's breath, or mentally (or physically) gasps in response to something amazing onstage, or is just deeply and profoundly moved.  Dance captured and shown on a screen (no matter the size) simply can't do that for me.

Edited by now voyager
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To me the difference between the 2D of streaming and the 3D of live performance is figurative as well literal - that's the best way I can explain it.

 

An opera critic recently described the experience of hearing a great voice in person as a "full body shiver" - I think that translates to certain dancers as well. It just can't be replicated on screen!

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5 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

To me the difference between the 2D of streaming and the 3D of live performance is figurative as well literal - that's the best way I can explain it.

 

An opera critic recently described the experience of hearing a great voice in person as a "full body shiver" - I think that translates to certain dancers as well. It just can't be replicated on screen!

That is a great turn of phrase!  Do you remember which critic it was?

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1 hour ago, HappyTurk said:

Even when watching my favorite dancers on screen, I become disengaged very quickly.

 

Because the editor has cut to a reaction shot from a minor character?

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45 minutes ago, Rob S said:

 

Because the editor has cut to a reaction shot from a minor character?

 

I like video directors who include reaction shots. What annoys me is when the camera's only on a singer when they're singing & you don't get the reactions. This is, obviously, for opera rather than ballet, which I've been watching on video for far longer & which is currently making up the majrity of my lockdown viewing. My favourite opera-for-video director is Brian Large, precisely because he always included reaction shots.

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7 hours ago, Jeannette said:

I cannot imagine theatres reopening before spring or summer 2021, when a COVID vaccine may be readily available. Audiences and the production teams (including performers) would not be able to maintain safe distances. I hope I’m wrong.

 

With regard to audience distancing and the economics of each performance...how can people be asked to, say, pay for two seats — their own and one of the empty seats beside him/her? Or is the government going to subsidize each empty seat? Think about it. Every other seat at ROH staying empty. Who’s paying for the empty seats? If the answer is the public, then the serious arts will become more elitist than ever.

 

Solution? I would happily pay a decent reasonable amount to watch live or rare filmed performances online. After this “COVID Season,” I believe that the streaming of performing arts is here to stay. Three cheers, I say, for the overwhelming majority of ballet lovers who don’t reside in New York City or any of the dozen other cities on earth with regular world-class ballet. One thing that I would not miss: shelling out money for travel and hotels (and meals and all else), for the chance to see new ballets or favorite old ballets with new casts. Regardless of this or future pandemics: bring on the streaming!

 

Separation is not just the seat either side of you it’s also seats in the row in front and also the row behind you, they are also too near.  We have all seen the queues for the ladies at the intervals, how could each of those to be deep cleaned between use.  Unless a vaccine is found and we can treat everyone attending it’s not going to be 2020.

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And I for one don't hold out much hope of an effective vaccine being found any time soon.  I do hope I'm wrong :( 

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Posted (edited)

So right about the timeline for theatres reopening. I hate to hear it but it’s the truth. Ballet will survive, of course, but it will take a while.

 

As for films vs live...of course live is best. But how many can afford it...especially with the present unemployment rate in the US? I hope that, in the end, North American ballet fans can enjoy the amount of web or cinema streams that Europeans enjoyed before COVID-19. 

Edited by Jeannette
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Of possible relevance here - today's Times carries a photo of what's captioned as a Dutch theatre using glass screens/partitions to increase safety, presumably.  I'm assuming it's a system test of some kind.

IMG_1132.JPG

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1 minute ago, Ian Macmillan said:

Of possible relevance here - today's Times carries a photo of what's captioned as a Dutch theatre using glass screens/partitions to increase safety, presumably.  I'm assuming it's a system test of some kind.

IMG_1132.JPG

 

Must be a test, yes: cinemas and theatres are planned to open there on 1st June for up to 30 people, then on 1st July for up to 100 people.

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I've heard from a reliable source that the Berlin Philharmonic have been experimenting with how they might be able to introduce social distancing in their main hall. The usual capacity is 2,400 but the largest audience they have been able to model with proper effective social distancing is just 400. For most halls a financial break-even audience figure is usually about 50% of a hall's capacity so obviously in pure financial terms 400 would be totally non-viable other than simply as a means to re-establish a live presence.

 

These are tough times for anyone involved with the arts. I'm a member of the Hallé Choir up in Manchester and I've already written off returning to singing in 2020 and am beginning to think the whole of the 2020/21 season may have to be written off. Things were different after the 1918 pandemic as can be seen from this New York Times article - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/06/arts/music/1918-flu-pandemic-coronavirus-classical-music.html . However, we now know so much more about viruses and the way they spread and I can't see anyone going against the science and pursuing a similar path to 1918/9. I hope I'm wrong, but if I am it'll only be because an effective vaccine has been deployed or some form of herd immunity has been reached (which judging by the latest government advice may still be some people's objective). 

 

Keep the faith!

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Here is an experiment of social distancing of 2 meters in a theatre in Okinawa, Japan which has  400 seats usually. The result was 60 people can seat with that distance.


 

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My God, is that what our life is going to become?  I am just getting more and more despondent with this whole thing.

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The thing that struck me about the picture inThe Times (above) was that it would only work if the audience entered in a particular order. People pushing past one another along a row would undermine the whole thing.

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, Sim said:

My God, is that what our life is going to become?  I am just getting more and more despondent with this whole thing.

 

And that's with modern sized seats ... not the smaller historic ones .... and the squashed distance between the aisles ... 

 

Also how many people are going to be able to walk or cycle to, say, the ROH or Sadler's Wells ... (given the 1 in 10 capacity on the Tube and buses already having been reduced)? .... I can walk to the ROH within a reasonable amount of time ... but there are many I realise who can't ... Cars surely offer other challenges ... 

 

Just so many challenges until an effective vaccine can be found.  Fingers ... and EVERYTHING ... crossed.  

 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I work with medical people and they aren't at all sure it will be possible to invent a vaccine.  After all, there are no vaccines for any of the other corona viruses.  And as with the flu, C-19 will keep mutating so one vaccine won't cover everything, even if one were invented.  They think that a treatment is more likely, but again one won't be available any time soon.  Let's remember that the vast majority of people who get this virus recover naturally, with the help of bed rest and paracetamol. 

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1 hour ago, Naomi M said:

Here is an experiment of social distancing of 2 meters in a theatre in Okinawa, Japan which has  400 seats usually. The result was 60 people can seat with that distance.


 

 

Oh my gosh. Even worse than had imagined. Given this scenario for live audiences - if it comes to this - (a) What would each precious ticket cost in a major venue? and (b) Why in heavens would a performing arts company not also want to offer paid-streaming options for a public interested in seeing that company perform? 

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I have spoken to quite a few dancers recently and they are all horrified at the thought of having to perform to half empty (or less) houses. 

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  • alison changed the title to Practicalities of re-opening in Autumn 2020 - or thereafter?

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