In a possible harbinger of an approach that theaters might take as they cautiously seek to reopen after pandemic-driven closures, Barrington Stage Company announced Tuesday it will adopt social distancing practices while pushing ahead with a greatly reduced season in August and the fall.
The company’s 520-seat Boyd-Quinson Mainstage in downtown Pittsfield will be reduced to one-third of its capacity during performances, creating greater space among rows, seats, and spectators. Patrons will be required to wear masks, and the venue will be deep-cleaned after each performance.
According to the announcement, performances will take place either at the Mainstage or at “a soon-to-be announced outdoor venue’’ in Pittsfield. The company’s second stage, the St. Germain Theatre, as well as Mr. Finn’s Cabaret, are closed for the season.
The first production will be an Aug. 5-16 run of “Harry Clarke,’’ a solo play by David Cale, starring Barrington Stage stalwart Mark H. Dold. That will be followed by BSC’s New Play Festival (Sept. 10-20), and then Arthur Miller’s “The Price’’ (Oct. 1-18).
All the other productions that had been scheduled for this summer have been postponed until 2021, including Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,’’ Richard Greenberg’s “The Assembled Parties,’’ Lauren Yee’s “The Great Leap,’’ Nilo Cruz’s “Anna in the Tropics,’’ Joseph Dougherty’s “Chester Bailey,’’ the world-premiere musical “A Crossing’’ (co-conceived by Joshua Bergasse and Mark St. Germain), and a world-premiere musical by the Youth Theatre titled “The Supadupa Kid.’’
When it resumes activities in August, Barrington Stage will not have a lot of competition for theater audiences in the Berkshires, given the recent decisions by Williamstown Theatre Festival and Lenox-based Shakespeare & Company to cancel their summer seasons because of the coronavirus. A spokeswoman for the Pittsfield-based Berkshire Theatre Group, another major regional theater, said Tuesday that the company is still moving ahead with plans to stage “Godspell’’ and “They’re Playing Our Song’’ in August.
In a statement, Barrington Stage artistic director Julianne Boyd said: “We have given a great deal of thought on how to produce a version of our season in the most responsible way, which includes following all guidelines in social distancing to ensure the safety of our actors and audiences. There is a human need to tell and listen to stories and to think, feel and share in a collective group experience that live theatre uniquely provides. We are proud that, given the extensive precautions and preventative measures we have implemented, when it is safe to gather again, we will be there for the Berkshire community.”