In times like this, the show must go on — at least for Matt Giles.
When the South Carolina Children’s Theatre was forced to cancel its upcoming production of “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat,” Giles, the theater’s co-artistic director, began brainstorming ways to still put on a show.
“I didn’t want us to simply be dark. It just didn’t feel right,” Giles said. “We are all right now looking for some way to experience joy, to experience togetherness, and theater does that better than anything else.”
In lieu of “The Cat in the Hat,” the Children’s Theatre is presenting a program called Summer on the Dock, featuring a brand-new original piece of theater that will be performed outside on the loading dock, which overlooks the theater’s parking lot, starting on Friday, July 17.
Each performance will be limited to 125 seats, according to Giles, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets.
“It’s going to be an interactive, silly engaging time packed with a ton of humor and a ton of heart as well, for all ages,” Giles said.
Gov. Henry McMaster has previously said that he hopes to make an announcement soon on when entertainment venues, including theaters and concert venues, will be allowed to reopen.
McMaster’s COVID-19 advisory task force, Accelerate South Carolina, has already drafted guidelines for theaters should restrictions for these venues be lifted.
Guidelines include allowing only 50% occupancy inside theaters and asking performers to put on wardrobe and makeup at home rather than at the theater. The task force further recommended that wardrobe changes be kept to a minimal and that choreography include social distancing.
Even if theaters are given the green light to open, the Peace Center will likely remain closed until the end of September, said Megan Riegel, its president and CEO.
“We’re just not built for social distancing” Riegel said, adding that the venue has a hard enough time enforcing its no camera and video recording rule.
“We’ve got a social responsibility as well,” she said.
Mike Sablone, producing artistic director at The Warehouse Theatre, said all programming at the theater has been postponed until the fall.
“And there are still questions about the safety of being able to present them” then, Sablone said in an email.
Sablone, who’s also behind the Upstate Shakespeare Festival, has already canceled this summer’s performances of “Othello” and “Love Labour’s Lost.”
“We would like nothing more than to see thousands of smiling faces in Falls Park, but remaining focused on the health and wellbeing of patrons and artists alike means we are not comfortable moving forward with these shows,” Sablone said in a Facebook post.
Tickets for the S.C. Children’s Theatre Summer at the Dock can be purchased at scchildrenstheatre.org/summer-at-the-dock.