Theatre News

A theatre in Massachusetts is planning to re-open this August with strict social distancing measures and solo shows

It will cut its capacity to one third

An auditorium
An auditorium pre-lockdown
© Egor Kurlyuk / CC BY-SA (

While government stipulations in the UK have meant social distancing is enforced until further notice, in the US some theatres are already offering ideas for safely staging shows this summer.

The Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield Massachusetts plans to re-open at the beginning of August with a reconfigured main auditorium, spacing out audience members to maintain distancing while watching the shows. This will involve removing every other row with two vacant seats between each party and all patrons required to wear facemasks throughout their time in the theatre.

There will be three distinct entrances and exits available to prevent unnecessary congregation, plus some shows will be performed without intermissions to prevent queues for bathrooms. In total it means about one-third of the auditorium's (named the Boyd-Quinson) capacity will actually be in use.

All surfaces will be washed and cleaned between shows, with hand sanitizer provided at multiple outlets within the venue's building for patrons. You can find out more in a guide created by the theatre.

All productions in the summer season will be solo shows with one performer. A three-show outdoor concert revival of South Pacific, starring Alexandra Silber, will also be held.

UK producers and industry leaders have had mixed reactions to the idea of reducing capacity and distancing audiences – some have said it would not be viable while others, including the National's Rufus Norris, have said they are exploring such options.