Performing in the Socially Distanced Theater

Performing in the Socially Distanced Theater

Performing in the Socially Distanced Theater


Times have changed and so has the theater. Whether it is Zoom theater or reduced capacity audience seating or even outdoor theatre, it is important to consider the changes that are upon us. The show must go on!

The content of the show may also be adapted to keep you, the production staff, and fellow actors safe. You may need to be trained on how to perform to keep true to the material while keeping everyone safe.

So how do you adjust your performance when the room is filled at 25-50% capacity? Suddenly stage left and stage right are filled with people – until they are not. Groups of 2-4 then nobody, then another group of 2, and then 4 seats over, 1 more person. It can feel like a rehearsal or advance performance with just the press in the room – except it’s not. It’s opening night.

First, you need to come prepared, not just as an actor but as a leader. No doubt the public you are performing for will be a bit skittish – still. Your director, crew and fellow actors may be a bit uncertain from performance to performance. It is important to stay professional, calm, and focused on your performance, and of course be mindful of all protocols and of the needs of your fellow actors. If it is an audience participation show, you may need to adjust your interaction on-the-fly based on attendance. If it’s ¼ filled, you must prepare, you will have to adjust internally and vocally a little differently than you do if the room is ½ filled. Capacities will vary more than ever before.

Another kind of show that may emerge is the outdoor theater, by this we are talking the theatre’s answer to the drive-in movie as well the rise of more traditional open-air theatre like “Shakespeare in the Park.” One aspect of a drive-in venue may involve some amplification as well as more set pieces kin to a soundstage but outdoors. Keep in mind you may be viewed through binoculars or even large monitors. There are sound techniques to prepare for this or any theatre venue and I would love to share them with you, to help you grow as an actor and artist.

If it is a Zoom show, your most powerful tool is your imagination, those inner images, your focus point on those images will keep you on track, because most likely you will not see the person you are in a scene with, especially if you are working with text, or on book. You must focus on the words and lift those words and ideas from the page and convey that out to someone or something you may not be able to even see properly. I know techniques that work, and you will feel and see how powerful your tool belt can be working together to uncover those inner gifts that you already possess and you will stand out.