USA

Performing in a Pandemic

Michael Paulson
Michael Paulson🍁 Reporting from Pittsfield, Mass.
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Most professional theater in America has been shut down since March. But this summer a production of “Godspell” was staged in the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts.

How did they make it work? →

The actors lived together in a pandemic bubble and were tested for the virus three times a week, using masks, partitions, and distance to stay safe while performing.

The show, presented by the Berkshire Theater Group, was outdoors, under a tent; the audience was just 50 people, all of whom were subjected to temperature checks, were required to wear masks, and were socially distanced from one another.

Plus: The front row was 25 feet from the stage.

“Godspell” was first staged Off Broadway in 1971, with songs by Stephen Schwartz. He came to the final performance; here he is greeting the cast after the show.

Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

“This was an unexpectedly and overwhelmingly emotional experience for me,” the composer told me.

“It’s been 50 years with this show, and somehow today memories from the very beginning of the show and people I’ve known along the way all came flooding through. I cried for the first 10 minutes.”

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