As UNO Theatre worked to reconceive its 2020-21 season in the midst of the pandemic, faculty costume designer Valerie St. Pierre Smith suggested that since all performance-based organizations in the community were surely struggling with the same issues, we might benefit from a collective conversation. She reached out to alumni and community members to gauge their interest in meeting and sharing ideas to keep performance alive.
On May 20th, UNO Theatre kicked off the COVID-19 THEATRE SUMMIT with nearly 50 members of the greater metropolitan Omaha theater community in attendance. In that and three subsequent Zoom gatherings, producers, directors, designers and actors discussed collaborative and innovative ways to bring theatre of all forms to the community during these challenging times. They addressed several critical questions. What is the impact of social distancing and PPEs on rehearsals and performances? Are rehearsals or live theatre even a safe possibility? What are the challenges and opportunities presented by moving to podcasts, zoom, or taped video? What are the streaming options open to theatre companies? Is there any advantage to collaborative partnerships during this time? All agreed that these conversations have helped us understand the possibilities on the tricky road forward.
This gathering was unprecedented, but Steven Williams, head of UNO Theatre, hopes it will become an annual event.