The show must go on
Although the theatre is closed, the staff of Theatre Bristol have found ways to remain active during this time.
Since March, many businesses have struggled during the pandemic. Some businesses have closed or had to change their hours of operation. Theatre Bristol is one of these businesses.
Zoom has become one the main modes of communication. Theatre Bristol is one of the many businesses using Zoom to remain connected with their community.
To keep their close ties to the community and remain active with theatre, Theatre Bristol did something very creative. They began doing readers theatre and radio dramas.
“We’re getting a lot of great response,” said the Executive Director of Programs Samantha Gray, “people are saying ‘this is just perfect.’”
Auditions for these are also conducted over Zoom. To keep audiences interested, the theatre wants to do different things like outdoor theatre. During this time, Theatre Bristol has also donated over 350 masks to healthcare workers and people in the community for free.
They also made a banner to recognize the frontline workers to show appreciation for all they have done during this time.
Since March, all productions planned for the year have been cancelled. The theatre’s main source of income is by ticket and concession sales, donations and sponsorships, which puts the theatre in a tight spot financially.
“We did get some relief funding, for which we're very grateful,” said Gray, “but without more, we can't keep sustaining the same way.”
The theatre does not have any paid staff, all the workers are volunteers, but there are still bills to be paid.
“We know how to scale back, but there are places where we've got obligations to meet,” said Gray.
Theatre Bristol is not the only business that was affected by COVID-19.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) conducted a study which found the pandemic had already caused an interruption among small businesses just weeks after its onset and prior to the availability of government aid. 43% of businesses had temporarily closed, and nearly all these closures were due to COVID-19.
Some of the most common types of small businesses are apparel, arts and entertainment, wellness and food services to name a few.
As it is unknown how long the pandemic will be, this can pose a threat to the non-essential businesses.
“It's changed everyone's life, how we do business, how we do everything,” said president of the Theatre Bristol board, Suzanne Eleas.
If the theater can reopen next year, they will continue with the productions they had planned for 2020. If they are still unable to open for an audience next year, they will continue with what they are doing now.
Gray and Eleas said they will also think of new things that may appeal to their audience.
Theatre Bristol is celebrating their 55th anniversary this year. The theatre was founded in 1965 by Cathy DeCaterina based on confidence for children.
The theatre was first named Bristol Children’s Theatre and became very popular among the community. The theatre usually does 6-8 productions each year as well as participating in community events.
Theatre Bristol started out as a children’s theatre and continues to keep children involved. They also do family friendly productions that all ages would be interested in. The theatre has put on productions from “Jack and the Beanstalk” to “Les Misérables”.
Please be sure to check out the audio productions Theatre Bristol has been doing recently on their website at www.theatrebristol.org.