Q. Why aren’t there dates on your 2020-21 Mainstage Productions.
We offered memberships to our 2020-21 season with the hopes that we can produce with people in the theater, but we will only do so if we can do it safely. We have been given permission from the professional actors’ studio (only one of the three LORT theaters) to produce our first show of the season, Talley’s Folly. For every show we announce, we must do so on a show-by-show basis with detailed safety plans to get approval.
Q. How are you going to keep us safe now that you have been approved to produce Talley’s Folly for a live audience?
Portland Stage received Equity permission after complying with a rigorous multi-point safety plan devised by taking into consideration guidelines created in the field, including, but not limited to: ART Harvard Public Health Road to Recovery Report; Guidelines from AEA (Actors Equity Association), SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society), USA (United Scenic Artists), IATSE (The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) Guidelines; Health and Safety Guidelines for Motion Picture, Television, and Streaming Productions During the COVID-19 Pandemic; The Event Safety Alliance Event Reopening Guidelines; while also addressing the State of Maine recommendations for reopening Performing Arts venues. The plan was reviewed by Stephen Sears, a clinical advisor to the Maine CDC in COVID-19 response and former Maine State Epidemiologist, as well as reviewed and accepted by artists unions AEA, SDC, and USA; and will be regularly reviewed by COVID Compliance Officers.
One of the critical safety aspects that Portland Stage was concerned about as in indoor venue was the update of the Portland Stage HVAC system. The HVAC system installed by W.H. Demmons utilizes bipolar ionization technology, which releases charged atoms that attach to and deactivate harmful substances like bacteria, mold, allergens, and viruses by pulling the hydrogen atom away, causing the harmful substances to die. Recent testing of the building’s system for effectiveness against the COVID-19 virus by two (2) different independent laboratories, Analytical Lab Group, and Innovative Bioanalysis, revealed that the level of the virus would be cut by 90% within 60 minutes.
Other safety protocols include, but are not limited to:
- The theater has also trained two COVID-19 Compliance Officers who will focus on a safe environment.
- No more than 50 people will be in the audience at any time.
- Everyone who enters Portland Stage must be masked and keep their masks on while in the building with very few specific and detailed exceptions.
- Talley’s Folly has no intermissions, and runtime is under 90 minutes to limit the time people are together in an indoor space, and concessions will not be served.
- The new daily cleaning regimen uses EPA N cleaning materials with a particular focus on high touch areas in addition to minimizing the need to touch shared objects.
- The two two-show days per week are scheduled further apart, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., to allow for appropriate cleaning of both circulating air and the physical space.
- Access to a video of productions will be available to audience members who do not feel comfortable attending the theater in person. These videos will be able to be accessed through standard ticketing software and, once purchased, will be available to be viewed immediately, or whenever the purchaser would like within the two-week window, the video will be live.
- Actors and crew are receiving COVID-19 tests weekly through the generous support of our COVID-19 testing partner, North Light Mercy Hospital.
- In the theater, audience “pods” will be socially distanced between groups–A “pod” is a friend/family group who feel comfortable sitting next to one another while wearing a mask. The Box Office will work with patrons to make sure they know who is in each pod, and each night’s seating chart will be based on providing the best safe seating for the varied size of the pods attending.
- During ticket purchasing, the Box Office will remind patrons of the rules for entry and the refund policy. Those feeling sick will be refunded in full.
- Modified building/venue traffic flow will minimize contact between people, with high visibility traffic flow markers.
- Highly visible hand sanitizing stations will be in the lobby.
- Open doors, paperless tickets, digital playbills available on smartphones will reduce shared surfaces.
- Staff and artists entering the building will submit a daily self-assessment health check that is submitted to supervisors and returned to the COVID Compliance officers. These assessments are done daily, tracked, and stored for 14 days beyond the run of each production.
- All staff and artists will participate in COVID-19 training before entering our building.
- All staff will be required to follow protocols, including masking and cleaning protocols.
- Actors, guest artists, and crew involved with rehearsals and performances are tested weekly for COVID-19 through a generous partnership with North Light Mercy Hospital.
- Staff is encouraged to work from home when possible, and office rotations will be established to limit the use of shared space.
- Rehearsal and tech schedules have been shifted to allow greater social distancing during work calls.
You can find the Maine CDC guidelines for reopening here: https://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine
Q. I was a member, but I’m not ready to commit to buying a 2020-21
membership. What will happen to my seats?
In response to the COVID-19 crises, we are offering a “hold my 2019-20 seats” membership for a single low fee of $50. With this membership, you are guaranteed your chance to renew your season seats into the 2021-22 season, and if you feel comfortable at any point during the season to attend, you will be able to purchase subscriber discounted tickets before single tickets even go on sale. more info
Q. What if I don’t feel safe coming in but I have a ticket?
We secured the rights from the union and rights holders of Talley’s Folly to videotape the performance to watch on-demand. We also will maintain a generous exchange and refund policy, as we don’t want patrons coming in if they might be ill or have ill family members.
If you have any other questions, please contact the box office. 207.774.0465, Tues.-Sat. Noon to 6 pm. Or email: [email protected]