One DC theater company makes a flexible plan for the pandemic

Most theaters in D.C. closed their doors in March with no idea when they will reopen. And given social distancing guidelines, only one thing is certain: “There’s no going back to what it was before,” said Maria Manuela Goyanes, the artistic director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

In a conversation about the future of theater hosted by the Mosaic Theater Company, Goyanes said the company is used to scheduling a complete season of shows, with a finely tuned calendar. That’s something they can’t do for the 2020-2021 season.

“The only way to announce it was without dates, which is, like, so antithetical to what we usually do. The show has an opening night, usually. It has a closing night,” she said.

But in 2020, unique times call for unique measures. In this case, Marketing Director Timmy Metzner has already been toying with an idea that seemed perfect for the pandemic world.

“He came up with this idea of the golden ticket,” Goyanes said, “You get the Woolly experience, digital or otherwise, whenever you want, however you want, as many times as you want.”

For one flat price, those who purchase the Golden Ticket, subscribers can attend or watch digitally all eight productions in the upcoming season. It gives subscribers choices on how to see the shows, and gives the theatre options of when the shows could go on.

“That kind of flexibility means that we don’t have to announce the dates for the show until, like, four to six weeks out of the show, which means we can actually look to see what is happening on the ground, to make that decision based on the data and the COVID data,” Goyanes said.

Along with the flexibility the Golden Ticket provided, it allowed her to make concrete plans for the future even with so few answers about how the months ahead will go.

“It felt important to still make commitments to artists and projects,” Goyanes said. “That’s their livelihood. “

They currently have seven shows lined up for the season, but the formats are still up in the air. Some may start digitally, then come back as a live performance later, or have to be put off until they can be done live further down the road, but the shows will go on.

According to the Woolly Mammoth Theater’s website, Season 41 will begin in fall and go through the summer of 2021. They will look to implement “an adaptable schedule given the rolling nature of re-opening and physical distancing protocols. “

The new season includes:

“Hi, Are You Single?” by Ryan J. Haddad

“Black Is Beautiful, But It Ain’t Always Pretty” by Kareem M. Lucas

Bushwick Starr’s production of “Animal Wisdom,” created by Heather Christian

“Teenage Dick” by Mike Lew

“Where We Belong” by Madeline Sayet

Octavia E. Butler’s “Parable of the Sower,” created by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon

“A Strange Loop”: Book, music and lyrics by Michael R. Jackson

More information about the Woolly Mammoth Theater’s upcoming season can be found online.

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