Theatre News

US theatre designs socially distanced auditorium inspired by Shakespeare's Globe

The venue has created a socially distant seating structure

Shakespeare's Globe
Shakespeare's Globe
© Public Domain

A theatre in Philadelphia is taking its cues from Elizabethan times for plans to stage performances while the pandemic continues.

The Wilma Theater, working with set designers and video designers, has sketched out what it has coined the "Wilma Globe", a two-tier auditorium that uses partitions between households to keep parties distant from one another. It is, according to the company, inspired by Shakespeare's Globe in London.

According to the venue: "The Wilma Globe is an arena, surrounded by two levels of audiences-boxes, each separated from one another by wooden dividers, but open to the stage. Depending on the specific needs of the show, it can be reconfigured into a semi-circle, horseshoe, and more. This Globe can fit as little as 30 and up to 100 people, and will provide a higher level of safety and comfort to our audiences."

The theatre has also said that it plans to video-stream shows live from its auditorium, using 12 installed cameras (some even positioned on actor costumes) to help those socially distanced. According to the theatre, "we can open our productions to a much broader circle of potential audiences", though will depend on approval from actor unions.

They added: "There are hundreds of important details that we are still working on, which will help ensure audience and artists' comfort and safety, from mask protocols to bathrooms to concessions to entering and leaving the space. Of course, we will abide by all relevant government regulations.

"We will find thoughtful and innovative solutions to match our current planning. But we believe this "hybrid" version – a mix of in-person and streaming – will provide us with a much higher level of flexibility and preparedness for next season."

While venues in the UK are currently unable to reopen or stage shows, innovative approaches and solutions are being considered regularly. Six the Musical has just unveiled almost 100 live drive-in performances across the UK, while Sleepless the Musical intends to open in August with socially distanced punters.

You can find out more about the Wilma Globe's ideas here.