A Sydney-based group of actors were driven by bus to Canberra by ACT Health to ensure their scheduled performance of American Psycho could take place this weekend.
The Canberra Theater, which hosts the show, worked with health authorities to find a way for the event to unfold despite the growing COVID-19 cluster in Sydney and the lockdown imposed on around five million people.
At the start of the lockdown, the ACT government banned residents of Greater Sydney from visiting the capital and imposed stay-at-home orders on returning Canberrans.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in ACT, but a warrant for wearing the mask indoors and on public transport has been introduced.
The Director of Programs and Presenter Services at the Canberra Theater, Adam Deusien said he was “delighted” that the place has received the green light to proceed with the show, which opens Wednesday evening.
“For American Psycho, in particular, we made sure to apply a particularly rigorous set of measures,” said Mr. Deusien.
The actors have been quarantined for the duration of their stay in Canberra and will only leave their accommodation to perform, as contact between people outside their bubble is limited.
The theater will be seated at 100% capacity, with the exception of the front row, to comply with social distancing rules.
This is the first show to be presented at the theater since the Canberrans were asked to wear masks in indoor venues.
“We have been so grateful for the collaboration with ACT Health, which has been absolutely amazing for us to be able to engage in very detailed conversations about the thoroughness of what we do and to ensure that we can still deliver what is a cultural experience. really exciting and important to the public in Canberra, ”said Mr. Deusien.
“We’re doing pretty well, considering, I think – taking all the necessary precautionary measures with the company and with our own staff, to make sure our public is safe.”
He said they hadn’t noticed a drop in ticket sales or attendance over the past week.
“People are always very excited and excited to come to the theater this week.”
Like the cast, the Canberra Raiders have also been placed on a “bubble” squad to protect them from infection as the NRL season progresses.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it was great that the arts and sport received the same treatment.
“The Chief Medical Officer of Health was able to work with the theater to provide appropriate COVID protections and exemptions … which are reminiscent of the types of COVID protocols and conventions that have been put in place in relation to sports organizations and sports competitions, ”he said. mentionned.
“I think the arts are treated fairly in this context.”
Smaller rooms facing a “quiet week”
The smaller ACT venues did not share the theater’s good fortune, signaling a drop in attendance.
One of Canberra’s smaller venues, Smith’s Alternative, has already seen a 20% drop in revenue since the weekend.
Owner Nigel McRae said three shows scheduled for later in the week have been canceled as bands are unable or unwilling to travel between states.
“One band was a big bunch of singers and they thought it was a bit risky so the week was pretty much marred by these events,” he said.
He said that although some local bands would still perform this weekend, it would be a “quiet week”.
“We’re fine right now, we just hope they get it under control – we’re pretty dependent on the shows that bring in audiences and customers,” he said.
But he said he supported the restrictions.
“We are always open, and everyone is welcome.”
Meanwhile, in New South Wales …
Across the border, the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Center has grown to 50% capacity.
Artistic director Jordan Best said the initial advice was to limit guests to one person per four square meters and was forced to scramble to make changes with just two hours of warning before their show on Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
“We had 280 people booked for Kiss Me Kate… so it was crazy,” Ms. Best said.
But Ms Best said it got slightly easier after NSW Health clarified its rules, which allow 50% capacity.
“So the box office made an effort to contact all of our ticket holders, we added an additional show and asked all of our ticket holders to go to that second show if they can,” she said.
“[We’re] trying not to cost artists and producers more money, but also trying to make sure that we cover ourselves as a venue, while trying to pay all of our staff. It’s a juggling act. “
She said the proximity to Canberra made the difference in the restrictions.
“But whatever we need to do to lock this down so we can reopen.”
She urged people to continue supporting their local theaters.
“We don’t have COVID here at the moment. We are taking every precaution, we are doing whatever it takes, you don’t have to be afraid,” she said.
“Come to the theater, wear your mask, we are socially distanced.”
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