We did something daring on Saturday night – we opened Carnegie Stage for the first live performance since we closed on March 12th. Two shows - one at 8:00 and one at 10:30.
This was not an off the WALL performance, but a burlesque show produced by our friends from Pin Up Perfection. This show was advertised to a select group of audience members who had bought tickets to similar events, clearly stating that a mask had to be worn at all times, when entering and while inside the theater, and we also made clear if there were medical or personal reasons for not wearing a mask, that the event would be available later online. An email was sent to ticket buyers to remind them of our requirements.
Following all Covid19 guidelines, only 15 socially-distanced seats in our 93-seat house were made available for advance online purchase, masks were worn by all, except the performers when on stage, individually, surrounded by scrims safely distanced from the small audience. No concessions were sold and hand sanitizer was readily available.
This was a test for us - for the new normal - whatever that’s going to be. Not for the money - no money to be made here - but an investment in the future. An attempt to bring life back to an empty theater - to give us hope, and to give our staff hope.
There were too few seats to sell to widely promote this event, but it was professionally videotaped for a later PayPerView showing, to help the performers make a little bit of money.
What did we learn? Well, not unexpectedly, some people thought the rules did not apply to them. The “macho guy” with a small group, all masked, who needed to be reminded how a mask should be worn. The young woman - unwilling to ruin her makeup and her freshly coiffed hair with a mask, trying to push her way in the door.
Only two misbehaved out of a total of 24, but their attitudes were enough to stress out our staff. How is this going to work when we’re all allowed to seat more people – what’s the best way to deal with these incidents? Also, even with very limited ticket sales, the second show did not sell out and in the end, our attempt at Pay-Per-View had meager results.
So, the lesson we took from this is that many are not yet ready to attend live events that used to easily sell out and, no surprise here, selfishness is alive and well, maybe now more than ever.
What’s next for us? Don’t know, but we’ll let you know when we do. Be well, and wear your mask.