We’re living in an extraordinary time, filled with uncertainty. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the performing arts has been catastrophic. Our theaters have closed, and we don’t yet know when and under what conditions they (and we) will be able to reopen.
Like all the other venues in Seattle and elsewhere, 18th & Union suddenly stopped what it was doing in mid-March when the severity of the pandemic became clear. We cancelled the final weekend of Radial Theater Project’s production of George Orwell’s 1984, and all of the shows we’d planned for the spring and summer had to be cancelled or rescheduled. We’ve been quiet over the past 6 weeks as we figured out our way forward. And today we’re excited to say that 18th & Union will reopen.
There’s a lot we don’t know of course: whether we’ll be part of Governor Inslee’s Phase 3 or Phase 4, exactly when we’ll be able to invite the audience back in, how many seats we’ll have given the ongoing need for physical distancing, and so on. But here’s what we know:
- 18th & Union’s mission from the start has been focused on supporting solo and other “portable” performances. If there’s a place for live theater in a world rightly concerned about people being too close to each other, small-cast shows will be an essential ingredient.
- Live performance venues need to be safe to attend. We’ll have fewer seats than before to accomplish the required distancing, and we'll have new protocols for cleaning and disinfecting the space.
- For many shows we plan to include both audience members who attend in person and who watch over a live stream. Audiences are getting used to watching live performance on web-based video platforms. For those who decide that attending theater is too risky until a vaccine becomes available, these technologies will let them “be there” too.
To make all this happen, we’re pleased as punch to announce that MAP Theatre, one of Seattle’s most dynamic nomadic theatre companies, is joining Radial Theater Project as a partner in managing 18th & Union. The MAP Gang will be producing their own work periodically, and MAP staff will be full members of 18th & Union’s management team. MAP Theatre has come home!
We’ll have more announcements over the next few weeks about our reopening plans. In the meantime, thank you for all you’ve done to support 18th & Union in the past as audience members and partner artists. We look forward to a very interesting future as we all figure out how to create and host live performances in the time of COVID.
18th & Union
Jackie De La Cruz
K. Brian Neel