Greenwood Community Theatre is working to bring people back safely for outdoor theater, summer youth camps, its Penguin Project in the fall and more.
“We’re not quite ready to open the doors to full houses, which limits us,” said Ryan S. Hewitt, GCT artistic director/youth and outreach coordinator. “Small steps are leading us to, hopefully, a normal season in 2022. ... We are so ready to be back, with people.”
“There are a lot of recommended guidelines for audiences but not a lot for performers,” Hewitt said. “We can figure out the audience. That’s just a question of can we fit enough people in here safely — wearing masks and physically distanced, to make it financially feasible. But, on stage, backstage is a completely different story. ...
“We only have one dressing room,” Hewitt added. “... Everyone’s theater space is different. We are really hoping when we bring performers back for a big show, we are as close to normal as possible. ... For live theater, how do we make our performers safe is the main question.”
For now, that means using measures that provide plenty of space and fresh air when possible. Such as an outdoor Shakespeare production in August at the Uptown Market splash pad, 220 Maxwell Ave.
“We want to get something on stage for our Penguins this year,” Hewitt said. “We’re going to do something, but what that is, is still being formulated. Because of support from patrons and sponsors and the City of Greenwood and relief opportunities, we’ve managed during the shutdown. It’s not lost on me how lucky I am to still have a full-time job or that we have been able to decide how and when we open, safely.”
John F. Keenan, GCT production/technical director is making his Shakespeare production directorial debut with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“We will be following recommended CDC guidelines for auditions this week,” Keenan said. “I’ve had the idea to do Shakespeare for a long time. ... If this is a success, maybe it can be part of our seasonal offerings.”
Shakespeare productions are great, Keenan said, “but there’s always a language and an understanding barrier.”
Keenan said his goal is to make this one accessible for all to follow and understand.
“Experience is not needed for any show that we do,” Keenan said. “Come on out.”
Hewitt said GCT was in a good financial position when theaters went dark near the outset of the pandemic.
“We’ve worked hard over several years, to be in a good position,” Hewitt said. “A couple years ago, something like this (pandemic) could have ended the theater...It’s been tough for all arts organizations.”
During downtime, Hewitt and Keenan said staff has been able to tackle two areas for inventory and reorganization, GCT’s prop room and costume room, two large tasks that would be difficult to accomplish between shows during typical theater seasons.
In addition to GCT staff pitching in, Keenan said Boy Scouts have volunteered to help with tasks.
“We’re all chomping at the bit,” Keenan said. “We want to do stuff. I’m excited for the time when I can again have a headset on and say, ‘OK, everybody ready backstage,’ and have the lights go up. I cannot tell you how grateful we’ve been for people’s continued support.”