When I initially started actively writing here in Toronto back in April, I had the idea to talk about masking policies but at the time I had thought that the issue wasn’t very topical any longer. Most companies had their policies in place (wear a mask and show proof of vaccination at the door). As the months moved along and the case numbers changed, policies did too. But with the colder months nearing and new variants of COVID-19 emerging, I figured it was perhaps time for some reminders about wearing your masks in the theatre.
Let me start off by saying I am pro-mask and very anti-getting-sick-again. My partner and I tested positive on Christmas morning of 2021, so it was NOT the most wonderful time of the year for us or our families. I understand that folks are entitled to their own opinions of things and that there are folks out there with very legitimate health issues which prevent them from wearing a mask while out and about, I truly do. I just want to talk about some of the real-life implications that are happening particularly in the theatre world in regards to wearing a mask inside the theatre space.
I know that each theatre company has their own policies, and that’s totally cool. What I’m asking is that you abide by those policies when they’re in place. If a theatre requires you to wear a mask please do so. I promise that these rules aren’t meant to keep people out or discriminate in any way; they are only in place to keep everyone safe. The smaller the theatre space, the more that these rules need to be in place and audience adherence becomes even more essential to keeping everyone involved safe and healthy!
The thing with live theatre that’s different from going out to a store or even sitting in a movie theatre is that there are SO many people to consider outside of yourself and your fellow patrons. There are the actors (who sometimes aren’t very far away from you at all), the stage managers and backstage staff, the ushers, the box office attendants, all of whom you’re going to be interacting with during your visit to the theatre. For any production, but in particular the smaller, independent ones, loosing any one of their cast or crew could spell total disaster and loss of a great deal of funds. We saw this happen with Fringe this year, where some shows had to close before they could even really get going because cast and/or crew got sick. It’s such a shame, because they’re just excited about sharing their art with you and I know that you as a patron are excited to experience that art, it’s just that if we also don’t protect one another, it means that we won’t be able to share our stories again.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but it was a LONG two years for me without being able to go to the theatre. So at this point, I’m basically willing to do whatever it is that each theatre company will require of me to ensure that I’m able to be sitting in a theatre watching a live performance. Whether that’s wearing a mask, showing my vaccination status, whatever it may be, I’m happy to do it, and I hope you feel the same way too! So please ensure that you’re abiding by whatever mask mandates are in place, and if you’re curious about what each theatre will require before you get there, most companies have a page on their website specifically to help you out in that regard! Stay safe, stay healthy, and go see some theatre!