Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Reopening Plans for The Seeing Place

It goes without saying that it’s been a long time that we’ve been away from our live audiences. And we miss you! Many of you have asked when we’ll be able to deliver live performances again, and we wanted to share some of what we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, what some of our obstacles are, and what we plan to do with the rest of the year.

One of the first things we did when the pandemic hit is gather as an ensemble (with support form our board of directors) to discuss the central question that was coming up for all of us: What importance does theater hold for our community, especially during a pandemic? The answer that we came up with was simple:

As civic-minded artists, we determined that our best course of action as activists is through art. Theater has the power to change hearts and minds - collectively and individually - and our company chose to forge ahead to create programming that would allow us to engage with our community in a meaningful way, in whatever way possible. 

One of the obstacles we have encountered is getting the word out so that people know we're still here for them, especially when so many people are going through immense trauma - psychological, economic, physical trauma. How can we make sure people know that thoughtful arts engagement can be a healing force during this pandemic? To solve this problem, we've expanded our outreach efforts to make sure that our message is getting out to communities that need to hear it - those whose stories our plays center around - especially women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA, immigrant, and disabled communities - of which the majority of our ensemble is comprised. 

Of course, funding is also a challenge. And while we have won several grants this year, it's not nearly enough to help us grow to the level of service that we hoped to have reached pre-pandemic.

Our next step was to figure out what we could do keep serving our artists and community during COVID times, and despite our challenges we've been pretty proud of what we've accomplished. 

Pandemic Programming

As you probably know, we pivoted our operations completely online from March 2020-present. This not only involved transitioning to Zoom for our weekly ensemble training workshops, but for our audiences we created an Education and Outreach Program and our Ripple for Change Program. For those of you who are unaware, here’s a brief description about both: 

Education and Outreach - In this program, we devise classes and events to help artists and theater lovers to learn and experience many aspects of theater in new ways. From our Drama Book Club, where we discuss plays of social relevance to our professional artist workshops, audiences of all kinds get a great glimpse at what creating theater is all about.

Ripple For Change - In this program, we find a play that is of social justice importance, and then partner with a non-profit organization that is doing work aligned with the theme of the play. We produce two public performances as a benefit for that non-profit. These performances are performed on Zoom “live” (in real time) for audiences, and proceeds go directly to that non-profit. We follow the performances with a special "Action Steps" panel discussion to discuss what's happening in the play, its current relevance to the issues addressed by the non-profit, and how we as global citizens can make a difference in our community addressing the themes of the play.

These programs have been very successful. Our Education and Outreach Program has served hundreds of arts lovers and provided desperately needed income for our ensemble members as teaching artists. Our Ripple For Change Program has raised thousands of dollars for important non-profit social justice organizations while also paying our artists a competitive wage for their work. 

With all of this, while many other arts organizations were losing money (or sadly shuttering) we were able to raise our budget by 40% due to strong support of audiences and supporters just like you.

We are continuing both of these programs for the foreseeable future, and even hope to keep them going when we go live later this year.

Live Programming

We’re listening closely to advisement from the CDC and Actors' Equity Association to determine the best time to reopen. We’re reapplying for what we hope our first play will be - WIT by Margaret Edson - for production in Nov-Dec 2021. This would mean that we’d likely do pre-production via a hybrid of Zoom and in-person in October, and then move to in-person rehearsals in November.

As of now, indoor performance venues are restricted to 33% capacity with social distancing and masking. This would mean that a 50 seat theater (our normal capacity) would allow 16 audience members. If we move into the larger of the two theaters in our complex, that would allow 26 people for the 80 seat theater. We hope that the capacity restrictions will be relaxed somewhat by then, but will adhere to whatever is deemed safest by the experts. We will be working closely with the venue to make sure that air filtration systems are in perfect working order for the kind of safety we need, and will consider staggered entry, contactless tickets and programs, and limited interaction with others as needed.

We plan to continue with our live programming with BOY by Anna Ziegler in early 2022. We’ll, of course, give you more information about both shows as soon as information becomes available.

Thank you for your continued support of The Seeing Place, both pre-pandemic and now. We're so excited to celebrate our 12th anniversary with you later this year.

If you have any questions about our reopening plans, please email us at
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