Vivienne Benesch, producing artistic director at PlayMakers, said there are not only huge consequences financially, but also for the creative capital invested in a production.
“People have been working on productions over a year," Benesch said. "I don’t think people realize the number of different people who touch and are a part of making a production."
Benesch said all set and costume design takes place on campus.
“There are many students involved as actors, in the costume shop and our scenic shop who got cut short and will never get to finish significant projects both educationally and professionally,” Benesch said.
Haslett said the theater hopes to reduce these losses by experimenting with new forms of entertainment and is considering forms of digital and online content.
“If we do start doing that, one thing the community can do is share it on social media," Haslett said. "Let people know that it’s happening. Get the word out about it. As always, supporting your local artist organizations, particularly in financially difficult times is incredibly important.”
Haslett said the theater is considering recording plays in the public domain, working with playwrights on campus and negotiating with major artist unions to do performances online since previous agreements with unions were about live theater performances.
“We want to continue to make theater, to create art and allow the community to engage in a meaningful way,” Haslett said.
Benesch said the pandemic presents unique difficulties for those involved in the arts.
“We exist to bring people together,” Benesch said. “That is what the performing arts is about. To understand our human experience through gathering in live storytelling.”
Haslett and Benesch said they look forward to seeing how PlayMakers and other art-centered individuals and organizations will adapt and respond to the difficulties presented by COVID-19.
Benesch said PlayMakers had already planned an entire season of comedy for 2021 before the outbreak.
“I think we are going to need to laugh,” Benesch said. “We’ve been talking about how we can help to lighten the mood and get people excited for the time that we get to come together and laugh together. And while we can’t be together right now, we can point toward that.”
Not only will PlayMakers adapt, but Haslett said current events could cause art to evolve.
“The reason we have reality TV is because the television and film writers went on strike for months," Haslett said. "So this whole new form of entertainment was born from that hardship, so there’s potential that something new is going to come out of all of this that is going to change the way we think about telling stories."