The Garfield Center for the Arts is turning its stage lights back on for live performances—with a catch. Following pandemic guidelines, the first play will be live-streamed for home viewing.
“This isn’t to be confused with Zoom meetings with separate and remote participants,” Garfield Executive Director Steve Arnold says. “From the first moment an actor steps onto the stage, you will be watching a live performance. It’s as close to a theatre experience available short of being at the theatre itself.”
The Garfield begins its season on April 30 with companion one-act plays “Lone Star” and “Laundry and Bourbon.” The plays will be live-streamed via newly acquired camera equipment and internet bandwidth upgrades thanks to a grant from Kent Cares for Growth Act.
“When Covid first hit last year, we jumped right into trying to video small performances, but the learning curve to produce these was too intense, and audiences were minimal,” Garfield Executive Director Steve Arnold told the Spy. Needing a way to connect with an audience already weary from sitting in front of computers for work and school became an overwhelming challenge. Arnold sought an upgrade that would eventually lead to in-house audience productions. Live streaming provides that connection.
Following the companion plays, the Garfield will present its annual Short Attention Span Theatre production at a yet disclosed outdoor venue. These evening performances will run two weekends starting July 23. Stay tuned.
If late September proves to be safe, Arnold hopes that the Garfield will return to live in-house productions and plans to kick off with a special production of the comedy “Clue,” opening September 23.
Given the unpredictability of the pandemic, the Garfield has a backup plan of alternate plays that would again rely on live streaming performances. These would be announced based on pandemic-related requirements for public gatherings.
Saving the big announcement for last, Arnold wants to embrace the 2021 holiday season with the popular “Shrek The Musical,” the hit adaptation based on the original DreamWorks animation.
The director is quick to point out that the staff and crew at the Garfield have been vigilant with social distancing and the use of masks during early rehearsals for “Lone Star” and “Laundry and Bourbon,” noting that everyone in the cast, crew, administration is in the process of being vaccinated, and that stage directions were modified to distance the actors from each other without changing the context of the play.
The Spy caught up with Steve Arnold to talk about the Garfield’s upcoming production.
This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about this season’s productions and to purchase tickets go the Garfield Center for the Arts website here.