Musings on Theater in the Time of COVID-19: The Future of Theater is Not Zoom

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Ken Wolf, Playwright, Actor, and Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Manhattan Repertory Theater.

The future of theatre is not Zoom theatre or virtual theatre for they are not theatre - the audience is the other scene partner in every play. I see Broadway (for they need to make money to survive) doing social distancing and having strange set ups with virtual programs and paperless ticketing, but I don't see that working for long.  We need a vaccine or a medication in order for large or even small groups to congregate.  I was directing and producing 2 full length plays and running two short play events with 12 plays in the midst of this. I saw what was happening and shut down right before Broadway did, for it was clear to me that people are more important than plays, and I will stand by that forever.  I can't produce or perform in a context where someone may contract this virus and die.  It is not happening.  That is not fun.  And theatre is always fun, (even the times it is a trainwreck - it makes a fun story to tell.)

But I have faith that the vaccine and/or medication will come sooner rather than later, even though they say the "conventional" time line is 12 months to 18 months.  Every genius doctor in the World who knows anything about viruses is working on this, to save lives, and to make money in the process. I have a feeling that there will be an INNOVATIVE medication or vaccine that will be a game changer and get us back to a new normal sooner than expected - a new normal that is safe.  Theatre is not ever going to go away, a pause, yes absolutely, but we will make it through this stronger than ever, and with some amazing stories to tell.

In my last podcast of the Playwriting Podcast  #157 - you can hear it online at the link below - I talked about personal stories and I told a few of mine from this crisis - please check it out.  (Or you can find it on Apple Podcast or any podcatcher app.)  But these are some new stories I never had to experience before.

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“Theatre takes place all the time wherever one is, and art simply facilitates persuading us this is the case”

- John Cage