The questions facing Manitoba theatres as they plan to reopen

By | May 27, 2020

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s premier announced on Wednesday that it revised its Phase Two reopening plan to include arts and cultural activities, such as dance and theatre.

Camilla Holland, executive director of Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, said the organization is very glad to be included in the second phase of reopening.

She added many questions remain, but thankfully the theatre centre has time to get the right answers, as all of its activity has been cancelled until the fall.

“So this gives us a chance to work with our unions and associations to work with the province, and the health directives, and to really make sure when we reopen, we are doing so with the safety of our audience, artists and staff at the forefront of those decisions,” she said.

THE RESTRICTIONS

Premier Brian Pallister emphasized that, even though these facilities will be able to resume operations, they will still be subject to strict guidelines to “maintain the discipline necessary to keep ourselves safe.”

According to the Manitoba government, these restrictions include maintaining physical distancing, enhanced cleaning of equipment, no choirs or musical theatre activity, and limiting capacity

Holland said further questions remain about indoor protocols, since physical distancing and large gathering requirements are still in place.

“It’s difficult for me to imagine doing theatre in the way that we usually do, you know, with actors six feet apart, or with audience members unable to sit next to each other,” she said.

“So we have lots of questions with how we are going to move forward safely.”

Holland noted some other questions she has are whether crowd size restrictions will change over time, and what are the protocols surrounding washroom use.

“We also want to make sure that we open in a way that is really safe for everybody and so what do we do to mitigate the spread of this virus?” she said.

“Does this mean we move to e-tickets, because hard tickets have to be collected by somebody, or does this mean we need our audience members to wear masks?”

THINKING AHEAD

Holland said the theatre centre has been waiting to hear what the official protocols would be regarding reopening, but they’ve been imagining the changes they could make.

“How can we ensure that people can line up appropriately? What do those decals look like on the floor of a theatre lobby? How do we ensure that people can arrive at the theatre and there’s not a huge glut of people in our little foyer before the theatre doors open?” she said.

Holland said they will rely on the province, organizations such as Safety Services Manitoba, and other attractions across the city to find out more about safety measures.

RETURNING TO THE THEATRE

For anyone who may be hesitant about returning to theatres, Holland said they won’t reopen until they believe it’s safe to do so.

“We are going to do our best to communicate to you, our patrons and to our staff, and to our artists, all of the things that we will change and modify and do to ensure their safety,” she said.

Stéphane Léonard, school director for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, said in a statement that today’s announcement is exciting, and they are evaluating what it will mean for students and staff.

We are developing new safety protocols in order to welcome everyone back into the RWB building, and we encourage everyone to continue following precautions in order to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from COVID-19.”

CTV Winnipeg previously reported the following theatres and dance companies have cancelled or postponed events due to the pandemic:

  • The Royal Winnipeg Ballet cancelled the remainder of its 80th season, its current tours and Ballet in the Park;
  • The Manitoba Theatre for Young People said its show ‘Spelling 2-5-5’ has been rescheduled to October; and
  • The Prairie Theatre Exchange’s 2020/21 season begins in the fall;

The second phase of Manitoba’s reopening plan begins on June 1.

A full list of restrictions can be found below. 

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