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7 Predictions on How the Theater World Might Change After the Virus

For weeks now we have listened to the news waiting anxiously to hear how many weeks it will be before cities around the United States start to “see the curve flatten”. I took heart a few weeks ago when I heard that New York had announced that Broadway would plan to open again on June 7th. It has now become clear that probably will not happen. In fact, the prediction is that touring groups, regional theaters and community theaters will open long before Broadway. In other words, for the first time ever…WE have the opportunity to set the standards for Broadway. How different will things look? How long will it be before people want to come back? These are questions that are ringing in all of our ears.

Each night I record the latest totals of Covid cases per state. I’m not sure why I do it– other than it will make interesting reading for someone who looks through my journal one day. We are making history after all, right? Every night my husband asks me, “Do you really think people will want to sit next to each other at ballgames, movie theaters or live theater?”

Well, I guess we aren’t out of the woods yet, but we’ve definitely had a lot of hours to think about how we are going to act when we are set free. And, I agree, I think things are going to be different.

Here are 7 predictions:

1. Seating is going to be limited. I don’t think people are going to want to sit next to people they don’t know for a long time to come. I have heard that airplanes are not going to be selling the middle seat. (Thank goodness.) If the airlines aren’t going to plaster us in their seats, I don’t think theaters will either.

Just this week I received an update from the company that runs our on-line ticketing. They are working on software that automatically blocks out the seats around a group of seats that are purchased. Now….how do I figure out the percentage of tickets sold so I can quote the accurate numbers to apply for royalties??? New problems….

2. Online sales will dominate. During this crisis I continue to hear people say that, “Money is dirty.” Businesses have offered to have payment options so that people don’t have to exchange money. I think theaters are going to want to protect their employees by only having payment options that don’t require the handling of money. That includes concession time. Perhaps pre-ordering your snacks so that people will not have to stand in line next to each other? Which actually might be a very nice courtesy to offer patrons. What is your average time standing in line at intermission??

Will that change anything for the industry overall? People have been purchasing tickets on line for years. In the long run we will have to juggle the credit card and service fees that go along with it. Have you noticed that some companies charge over $20 in fees???

3. Real Estate is going to be more affordable. Now this is exciting. With all the companies that have had to figure out how to work remotely…I think a lot of buildings are going to become unnecessary which leaves them open for theater space! Before this crisis, there wasn’t enough of it or it was too expensive. Maybe that is something positive to explore.

4. Live streaming is going to be a very real possibility. Man, there is just nothing like watching a live show, but if you can’t find a way to attend then seeing that live stream is for sure a second best. I can’t wait to see how this continues to develop.

5. Theaters are going to be more flexible about the ability to change tickets. Perhaps we will send out instructions with the ticket order on how to exchange tickets if the customer doesn’t feel well. Along with that, perhaps the theater will take temperatures before the customer is allowed into the theater. It will be all about making sure that the audience member feels like we have their safety in mind.

6. Limited seating will be available. I’m not sure how long social distancing will be in place or how long it will take for us to be comfortable sitting next to someone we don’t know. So, theaters will limit the amount of seats that will be available for performances. This will give everyone ample room to spread out and not come in close contact. Perhaps ushers will dismiss people row by row as well. It will all be about how we can limited the contact of the audience. Perhaps we could also have certain performances that were strictly for those at higher risk? Limiting the number of seats even more.

7. Theater will come back. We need it. We have survived wars and TV and Netflix and I believe people will be craving the community that is theater. I’m not sure how long it will all take. We might all have to rebuild. But we will be there for you when you are ready to come back!

Do you remember the first live performance you ever saw? I do! I remember how I felt when I heard the orchestra begin to tune. I remember the energy of the audience and how I felt when each cast member appeared. I cannot wait to sit in an audience and feel all the feels again. Will you be there with me?

I’d love to hear what you think of these idea and if you have others! Please take a moment to like, share, comment and follow!

Until next time!

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