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State Of The Arts: Live Theatre Venues, Companies Prepare For Return Of Live Audiences

A stage hand prepares for dress rehearsals for Opera Australia's production of
A stage hand prepares for dress rehearsals for Opera Australia's production of "The Merry Widow" at Sydney Opera House on January 02, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.
Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

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As with so many sectors of arts and entertainment, especially those that rely on live audiences, the pandemic has rocked the live theatre industry. The yearlong lockdown due to the coronavirus has forced live theatres and theatre companies to get creative and find ways to continue to put shows on virtually. But finally, it appears there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. 

Earlier this month, the California Department of Public Health released new guidelines for a number of industries, live theatre among them. It’s not a full return to normal yet -- according to the state’s criteria, live performances indoors cannot resume until counties are no longer in the purple, red, orange or yellow tiers. However, counties in the orange tier can start putting on live, outdoor performances at 20 percent capacity for regional attendees who live within 120 miles of the theatre.

Today, as part of our weeklong series exploring how different sectors of the arts and entertainment industry are starting back up, we’ll talk about how local theatres and theatre companies are preparing to return to live, in person performances when circumstances allow.


Meghan Pressman, managing director and CEO of Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles

Gil Cates, Jr., executive director of the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood

Ben Guillory, co-founder, CEO and producing artistic director at The Robey Theatre Company, an African American theatre arts organization located at The Los Angeles Theatre Center in Downtown Los Angeles

Paula Tomei, managing director of South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa