Christopher Tabb, Artistic Director for the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts (WCPA) housed in the historic Jones Theater in Westcliffe, recently had to make the decision to call off – cancel, postpone, what you will – the WCPA’s Shakespeare in the Sangres season — due to the cornoavirus known as COVID-19.
It was set to open in June with Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, to be followed by Jean Anouilh’s 1944 adaption of Sophocles’s Antigone. Tabb was to have starred as Benedick in Much Ado in the WCPA’s 15th season of Shakespeare in the Sangres, which is held in an outdoor amphitheater in the Feed Store Park behind the theater.
The hardest part about dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, for Tabb? “Dealing with uncertainty is the hardest part: the lack of being able to reschedule what has already been planned, and then dealing with the prospect that nothing will happen at all this year as a real possibility.”
“Another hard thing is thinking about everybody’s welfare – both cast and crew — and the public. The last thing we want is to try to open up prematurely, and then for some small outbreak to be occurring as result of attending a theater performance.”
On the subject of what he has learned from the experience of planning a theater season in the middle of a pandemic, Tabb says: “Given the nature of what we do, we have to plan ahead. There is no performance if we don’t rehearse it weeks in advance, so what I’ve learned is to be flexible and not beat myself up over what is unpredictable.”
The silver lining?: “The chance to do different things. The chance to engage in some of the projects that I’ve put off forever – and to take a breath and do a creative reset.”
“The important thing we can take from this is to live through this experience and reevaluate what our audience may be looking for, in the future,” saidTabb. “[To think] how we would undertake productions that reflect living through this experience and reflect how society has changed, and encourage through our work, the notion that we are all in this together.”
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