“Just a wonderful play,” said Robert Falls, the artistic director of the Goodman. “We were in previews, and the audience was loving it. We were three days from opening.”
I called Falls because I was wondering, with vaccine being pumped into arms and hope of a returned world flickering, how the Chicago theater community might incorporate the past year. He’s the guy who put on Henrik Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People” right after Donald Trump’s election, so if anyone would be folding the COVID nightmare into his theatrical batter, it would be Bob Falls. But how?
“A lot of theaters our size, they’re in a complete tizzy about how to open their seasons from scratch, having to choose a play,” he said. At the Goodman, they’ll dust off the set, get the actors back and pick up where they left off ... We can have this production up by summer.”
That’s one approach.
“You’ve got theaters across the country in mid-production, theaters that literally have a ghost light sitting on the stage,” said Michael Weber, at Porchlight Music Theatre. “They’re going to start up right where they were. Others, like us, have decided to shelve the season that we planned, and we’re rethinking an entirely new season, assuming we can get back. We’re hoping for the fall.”
A “ghost light,” by the way, is the single bulb kept burning on a stage in a darkened theater, to keep people from blundering into the orchestra pit. In plague-darkened 2020, it’s become somewhat symbolic, the spark of life in the heart of a comatose patient.
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