“The biggest challenge, as most other live performance venues are experiencing right now, is trying to figure out how to safely connect with audiences while also keeping our actors safe,” Duval says.
As Duval searched for shows that could be adapted to these unprecedented conditions, she looked for plays that could be performed with distance between actors, or with set design that could create natural barriers, and plays that could be delivered to audiences in innovative formats.
“I’m looking for shows we could live-stream or perform as a radio play, for example, but don’t want to eliminate the option of live performances where audiences and performers could be at a safe physical distance – if it’s safe to do so,” Duval says.
“It’s been really positive and super encouraging because I think people really want something to do and at the same time they want to know they’ll be treated respectfully and will be safe.”
With all that in mind, here’s a look at the innovative season coming up:
- Centerstage opens the season with a production of one-act performances exploring theater magic and how it creates a sense of wonder and suspended disbelief, The Magic of Theatre (and Other Things We Need.)
- While Centerstage usually stages a holiday pantomime, for safety reasons Puss in Boots: A Panto comes at the end of the season.
- Instead, the holiday season brings A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol.
- The Importance of Being Earnest, a light-hearted Victorian comedy of errors is ideal for the winter performance.
- Come spring, Within the Law is a play written in 1911 but adapted by Joshua Gerard that Duval is excited to share. “I know it’s from 1911, but wow, it could have been written just recently,” she says.
With a focus on keeping actors safe, general auditions and the first 4 1/2 weeks of rehearsals are currently virtual. As actors come together on stage, Duval is working to create a set that allows for appropriate physical distancing – what she’s dubbed “distance blocking.”
Measures will continue to be adapted as the season progresses, responding to health and safety needs as they develop.
Inspiring the next generation continues
Recognizing their full name is Centerstage Theatre Arts Conservatory, the company is trying to stay true to that by continuing training the next generation of performers, playwrights and stage crew representing all parts of the community.
“It’s a huge initiative for us – this stage needs to reflect this area,” Trista says.
Earlier this month, a diverse group of 14 playwrights gathered to have their work read aloud for the first time. And this past season brought the company’s first sensory-friendly performance for those with Sensory processing disorder. “Some of our patrons told us it was the first time they could bring their entire family to the the show.”
To learn more about Centerstage Theatre and the coming season, visit centerstagetheatre.com.