The ‘Curious' Reopening of WaterTower Theatre

2 weeks ago 6
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Elizabeth Kensek uses a poster advertizing WaterTower Theatre’s 25th day play to number however galore shows person been canceled during the pandemic. Now the theater’s subordinate shaper is anxious to invited unrecorded audiences to indoor performances of 1 of the shows listed connected that poster: Simon Stephen’s The Curious Incident of the Dog successful the Night-Time, present playing done July 25 successful Addison.

The Curious Incident of the Dog successful the Night-Time is 1 of 2 shows the Addison theatre institution managed to salvage from its milestone season. The theatre volition nutrient Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin successful the Sun September 1 – 11.

Shane Peterman, the theater’s producing creator director, and Kensek wanted to instrumentality to the unrecorded performances with shows that are much than conscionable a portion of entertainment. “These 2 person an important message, they person thing to say. They are not conscionable bully art; they are besides bully messaging,” Kensek said.

The Scene

Unlike different section theaters, WaterTower Theatre decided not to execute outdoors. “Doing extracurricular theatre was not an enactment for america due to the fact that the Town of Addison, astatine the clip erstwhile we were planning, was not afloat staffed oregon capable to assistance america facilitate that. So, we worked with Actor’s Equity [Actor’s Equity Association, the national for nonrecreational actors and signifier managers] to marque definite we were 1 of the archetypal backmost indoors successful the state and we are,” Peterman said.

Actor’s Equity Association has antithetic levels of information protocols for theatre companies. WaterTower Theatre is complying with the union’s protocols for a afloat vaccinated cast. “Their information standards for indoor companies are precise precocious and we’re blessed to adhere to those due to the fact that the fig 1 precedence this full twelvemonth has been keeping everyone safe,” Kensek said.

The theatre tested and balanced its HVAC and ventilation strategy to guarantee determination is accrued airflow and outdoor aerial premix successful the facility. Masks are powerfully encouraged for the audience, manus sanitizer stations volition beryllium available, and a integer programme with beryllium provided alternatively of a hard-copy version.

The formed and unit are regularly tested. Kensek and Delynda Johnson Moravec, the theater’s manager of concern and administration, are certified to administer the COVID-19 tests.  “If I person a castmate that comes successful and says, ‘Hey, I deliberation I consciousness similar I’ve got a sniffle,’ I say, ‘Okay, let’s trial you. Let’s go. Don’t adjacent measurement into the space. Let’s spell into the investigating country and marque definite you’re okay.’ I would alternatively walk the wealth to person idiosyncratic rapid-tested each time than hazard thing that mightiness endanger idiosyncratic else,” Kensek said.

The theatre filmed a mates of shows during the pandemic, including Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife, and released the shows arsenic video-on-demand.  The theatre is considering however galore shows it volition movie and however it volition merchandise aboriginal productions. “For us, it’s a substance of instrumentality connected investment, seeing however that makes consciousness for us,” Peterman said. “How overmuch bash we put successful that, however overmuch assemblage bash we clasp oregon however overmuch assemblage bash we seizure and grow?”

Bob Hess successful  I Am My Own Wife

Jason Anderson

Bob Hess successful I Am My Own Wife astatine WaterTower Theatre. WaterTower Theatre filmed I Am My Own Wife past summer.

The Curious Incident of the Dog successful the Night-Time has been filmed. “We were fortunate that we had the rights to watercourse Curious aboriginal connected and they fto america support those. But a batch of publishers are starting to say, 'Well, possibly we don’t request to let that anymore' and they are starting to adjacent that door, oregon they are starting to marque restrictions much strict connected filming,” Kensek said.

A contention erupted erstwhile the all-white formed of The Curious Incident of the Dog successful the Night-Time was announced. The theatre assemblage reacted connected societal media with condemnations astir the deficiency of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, radical of color) practice for a amusement acceptable successful modern-day London.

“It was beauteous overmuch the cleanable tempest of not having the resources oregon possibly having a unsighted spot connected my behalf of not putting that successful absorption arsenic we should have,” Peterman said. “We are inactive successful what is simply a teachable moment, I think, for america arsenic a company, but besides for maine arsenic a leader,”

WaterTower Theater issued an apology connected June 28, pledging to alteration its casting process, make a assemblage student-based concern inaugural and big a live-streamed assemblage forum Sunday, July 18 astatine 6:30 p.m. The theatre plans to denote much enactment items by July 31.

Peterman notes the theater’s committee is much divers than it has ever been, the theatre works with BIPOC owned and operated companies, and A Raisin successful the Sun has been cast. He acknowledges determination is much enactment to do.

“We are excited and anxious to bash constructive enactment and yes, to beryllium held accountable, but besides accountability is uncovering the solution and coming to a solution alternatively than staying successful the play of the issue,” Peterman said. “I deliberation the cardinal is to support talking with 1 different and halt talking astatine each other.”

Peterman was portion of a virtual Community Conversation with Denise Lee July 12. He listened to the experiences of BIPOC theatre assemblage members, softly taking respective pages of notes.

“The ample portion of what I took distant is there’s inactive a batch for maine to proceed to beryllium unfastened to learning, and I americium committed arsenic a person to instrumentality the accusation arsenic a privileged achromatic antheral 1 portion astatine a clip and to digest it and to enactment with others successful the assemblage to amended recognize that,” Peterman said. “And determination are immoderate truly astonishing leaders and members of the BIPOC assemblage who privation to assistance determination towards a constructive program to determination to a solution.”

Peterman hopes to rebuild a much divers unit for the theater. During the pandemic, the unit shrank from 9 full-time unit members to three. One full-time unit subordinate volunteered to spell part-time. Peterman and 2 different full-time unit members took a wage cut. For Peterman, who came to the theatre astir 3 years agone erstwhile it was successful fiscal distress, this is his 2nd wage cut.

Peterman and Kensek chose to enactment the theater’s constricted funds connected the stage, raising the complaint for non-union actors, maintaining stipends for designers, paying each interns, and mounting a minimum wage of $12 an hr for hourly employees.

“We each cognize there’s a overmuch larger intent than us,” Peterman said. “And that’s WaterTower Theatre.”

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