As the novel coronavirus (“novel” here means no one has prior immunity) has incurred its way into DC, Maryland and Virginia, area producers of live theatre are taking measures to protect the safety, comfort and health of their patrons, performers and staff.
All companies are following the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as local and state public health authorities. As of this date, no productions in our area have been cancelled.
Theatres responding to our quick query this weekend have instituted frequent sanitizing procedures in order to protect against the virus. All encourage any staff or patrons who feel ill, to stay at home. Many are also offering ticket exchanges.
Beyond that general description, we thought you would want to hear from the companies directly.
March 10 updates: news from Edlavitch DCJCC (Theater J), Constellation Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Monumental Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Everyman Theatre, The National Theatre, Round House Theatre
Adventure Theatre MTC will be disinfecting its classes and lobby and sanitize its theatre after every performance. They will provide hand sanitizers to patrons on request. The company has lifted its exchange fee, so that any patron who feels ill can exchange his or her ticket(s) for tickets to a future performance.
Arena Stage will maintain its current schedule, and has also increased its on-site cleaning protocol and implemented a flexible ticket exchange. If patrons would like to exchange their tickets for a future date, they can call the Sales Office at 202-488-3300. Leadership at Arena continues to keep a close eye on the situation and is following the recommendations of the District of Columbia Health Authority and the Center for Disease Control.
CSC will be providing personal health supplies (as available) to patrons on request. Management says their “housekeeping staff are taking extra measures to clean and sanitize our public spaces multiple times a day” and that it has adopted a “flexible exchange policy” for ticket-buyers who feel ill on the day of the performance.
All performances of The 39 Steps are proceeding as scheduled. Anyone feeling ill, may exchange their tickets for any remaining performance this season, at no additional cost. Email boxoffice@ConstellationTheatre.org or call (202) 204-7741
Creative Cauldron is dark until March 20, but management says that it will be increasing its cleaning schedule, perform disinfections after every performance and class, especially high-touch areas like doors, surfaces and arm rests.
Edlavitch DCJCC which includes Theater J
A DCJCC member learned, after her visit to DCJCC, that she had been previously exposed to the coronavirus. This report from March 9: “We have implemented additional cleaning and disinfectant procedures (as recommended by the CDC), including using hospital-grade disinfectants to clean the locker room, studio, equipment, fitness machines, handrails, and common areas throughout the Center, such as all restrooms, Goldman Theater, Cafritz Hall, and the Preschool. Alcohol-based sanitizers are easily accessible to all visitors.
“Prevention is our priority at this time. Common coronaviruses can cause symptoms similar to a common cold, such as fever, cough, sore throat, and feeling unwell. The symptoms that are currently being seen with the current coronavirus infection are fever and respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath.
“If you or anyone you know are displaying any of these symptoms, or if you or anyone you know have traveled to any of the most at-risk countries, please consider postponing your visit to the EDCJCC.”
“All staff has been urged to stay home should they feel symptomatic in the least, and we urge our patrons to do the same. Your tickets will be honored on another day if you contact the box office prior to your performance time/date and let them know of your situation.”
These cleaning procedures are in place: Handrails, door knobs and pulls and the Box Office window area will be wiped down with Lysol and/or Clorox products after every show. The two main bathrooms will be wiped down between shows and at the end of each performance day. Box Office and Concessions personnel will use hand sanitizer between as many transactions as possible given time constraints. Wipes and gel hand sanitizers have been placed around the lobby and in the rest rooms for you to use as you deem necessary.
All performances are proceeding as scheduled. “We are taking extra precautionary measures by providing additional hand sanitizers in our lobbies, and our custodial staff routinely disinfects commonly touched surfaces. If we receive the recommendation to cancel performances, we will prioritize the health of our audience, artists and staff by implementing and communicating appropriate changes that ensure a safe environment. In the event of a cancellation, we’ll notify all ticketholders by email or phone. The latest updates will also be posted on the Ford’s Theatre website and main box office phone line.”
Baltimore’s Hippodrome reports that “extensive cleaning and disinfecting protocols are in place” and that the facility will be following guidelines issued by the State and Federal government. The Hippodrome will also set up sanitation stations. Although the facility will remain open, in light of the CDC’s current opinion that the risk of infection is low, “we will remain vigilant and are prepared to make decisions based on current needs, as well as in response to changing conditions.”
Imagination Stage is sanitizing the theatres, classrooms, and all surface areas and materials daily, removing plush theatre blankets and activity space costume pieces and providing hand sanitizers throughout the building and classrooms.
Ticket holders for performances between now and April 12, 2020 who are unable to attend due to illness should call the box office to exchange your tickets at 301-280-1661. All exchange fees will be waived for this period.
“Our facilities in Mount Rainier and at the new Creative Suitland Arts Center will respond as needed to regional closures – following the Prince George’s County Schools or federal government schedules – or provide alternative programs. If you do visit us at Joe’s or Creative Suitland, we have disinfected and sanitized. Staff will maintain high standards to provide a safe environment.”
“While the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered relatively low in the DMV area, the Center has intensified its cleaning practices across the campus, including our performance venues and dining areas. Precautionary measures include deployment of additional hand sanitizers and daily and rigorous disinfection of all high-touch surface areas. Until further notice, the re-use of souvenir cups has been temporarily suspended at all concessions locations within the Center, including the KC Café. Only new cups will be accepted.”
“We are maintaining our space at Episcopal High School along with the EHS maintenance staff by taking extra cleaning precautions: wiping down all surfaces with disinfectants, placing hand sanitizers around the theatre, and increasing cleaning frequency. If you feel under the weather or are uncertain about being in a crowd, feel free to exchange or return your tickets. We are happy to accommodate so that everyone may have the best time possible at Head Over Heels. ”
Mosaic is coordinating a response to COVID-19 with the other theatres who perform in the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Noting that Mosaic is dark this week, Mosaic management said that “we will be communicating with our patrons early next week before performances for Inherit the Windbag begin about the evolving adjustments and actions we are planning to implement in coordination with Atlas Performing Arts.”
“We have significantly increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting in all public and backstage areas beyond the standard daily schedule. We invite patrons to make use of soap, paper towels, and tissues available in all restrooms.
“Anyone who is experiencing cold or flu symptoms, or who is not feeling well, is encouraged to stay home and contact the point of purchase for more information about ticket exchanges and policies. The National Theatre Box Office is open from noon – 6pm, Monday – Friday, and can be reached by calling 202-628-6161 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Round House Theatre
Our upcoming production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cost of Living doesn’t begin performances until April 1. As we approach that date, we will consider the status locally and nationally to make decisions on how best to proceed.
We are using the time until then to prepare our facilities following the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are cleaning all hard and flat surfaces, doorknobs, and handrails every day with commercial grade disinfectants. We are also planning to install hand sanitizer stations in all of our facilities and investigating electrostatic antimicrobial sprayers that can be used inside our theatre.
STC will also be sanitizing its theatres after every performance. In addition, staff members who have contact with the public will be wearing gloves. Patrons who feel too ill to attend a show may exchange their tickets for a future performance at no charge by calling 202.547.1122. “STC is closely monitoring the current health risk situation,” management said, “and will act in accordance with local policies which may affect the use of our theatres.”
Signature Theatre has increased their cleaning frequency. Hand sanitizers will be available throughout the building and cleaning wipes are available for chairs and handrails. “We are communicating with our audiences about our flexible exchange policies. We’ve always had them, but we are looking to be as accommodating as possible and are encouraging audience members to take advantage of this exchange policy and stay home if they are ill.We are also encouraging our employees (staff, actors, etc.) to stay home if they’re sick and giving them the tools to work remotely if necessary.”
In addition to regularly disinfecting each of its theatres, Studio will have Purell stations throughout the building and will make disinfectant wipes available at the box office. Studio Theatre is encouraging patrons who feel ill or are experiencing flu-like symptoms to stay home and are easing their ticket exchange policy.
Simple Steps to protect yourself and others
Virtually all of the theatres recommend that patrons follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including staying home if you feel ill, regular handwashing (20 seconds, the length of “Happy Birthday” sung (silently) twice, sneezing or coughing into a tissue or, if none is available, into your sleeve, frequent use of hand sanitizers, and, perhaps the most challenging, not touching your face.
Another way we can all protect ourselves and each other is by, after using the person’s room and washing up, retaining the paper towel to open the door and use it to push the elevator buttons.
Theatregoers are very social. So you may want to re-think the handshake: tapping elbows, fist bumps. The Washington Post reports that Australian leaders suggest patting each other on the back. A smile, or a nod might do. We like this one from Joe’s Movement Emporium: the Vulcan live long and prosper gesture.
Tony Roma wrote this on Datebook: “While cities and their arts organizations take precautions to contain the virus, let’s remember this is (hopefully) only a temporary measure. (It’s also worth noting that there are already people who have recovered from the virus.)
“In our most trying times, the arts almost always manage to continue in some form. This isn’t just because of their sense of carrying on an element of normalcy during abnormal times, but because we need the experience of viewing art as a form of psychological sustenance and escape.”