As a new season begins, the big questions posed in the best theater co-exist with a more immediate question: Are theatergoers safe? Starting last Friday, Broadway attendance requires neither a face mask nor proof of vaccination, even as the city government’s COVID-19 webpage reports: “There are currently high transmission levels of COVID-19 throughout the city, so you should continue to take the following precautions: Wear a high-quality mask in all public indoor settings and around crowds outside….”
Last week, the New York Times reported: “New York City suddenly removed its color-coded coronavirus alert system on Thursday just as newer Omicron subvariants are fueling another rise in cases and hospitalizations.’ Ed Yong in The Atlantic: “America is Sliding Into The Long Pandemic Defeat: In the face of government inaction, the country’s best chance at keeping the crisis from spiraling relies on everyone to keep caring.” (More on Broadway’s lifting of mask mandate in last week’s theater news summary.)
The Week in Theater News
“The Minutes” joins “American Buffalo” as the two shows on Broadway (out of the current 28) that are continuing to require that theatergoers wear masks, after the Broadway League lifted its mask mandate as of July 1st.
Governor Kathy Hochul signed a new “Ticketing Law,” targeting hidden fees and predatory practices for theaters and other live events. (Deadline)
Broadway’s custodians, elevator operators and restroom attendants represented by Local 32BJ have gotten a new and better contract that includes a pay bump, an increased pension contribution from their employers, and workers’ health insurance 100% employer-paid, “which was an important sticking point for union negotiators.” (Gothamist)
‘Long Live the Theater’: Mariupol’s Drama Company to Perform Again (NY Times)
New inroads in accessible theater
An audio describer, a creative captioner and an access consultant explain how their work is becoming integral to the theatre industry (The Guardian)
The Music Man with a mixed Deaf and hearing cast (Washington Post)
Rest in Peace
Peter Brook, 97, the legendary British-born director who lived for 50 years in Paris and conquered New York too, from the Tony-winning “Marat/Sade” (1 of ten Broadway shows he helmed) to the nine-hour Sanskrit epic “The Mahabharata”
‘I don’t like grand terms such as “artistic vision” because I don’t believe I have one,’ he told the Guardian in 2005. ‘For me, the absolute necessity was to work with actors of different cultures and backgrounds and play in front of different audiences’
“As much revered by the establishment as he was by the avant-garde, Brook was a recipient of three Tony Awards. Yet he was more in his element when working away from the commercial glare of Broadway and London’s West End.” — Appreciation: The radical majesty of British theater director Peter Brook by LA Times critic Charles McNulty.