Local Theaters Seek To Raise Curtains Again Safely During Pandemic

Thursday, September 3rd 2020, 4:52 pm
By: Ashlyn Brothers

TULSA, Okla. -

COVID-19 caused curtains to close at theaters across the nation, but now they’re finding creative ways to get back to what they love, safely.

It’s been months since theaters have set their stage, called for prop checks and places, and now they’re finding their footing, just somewhere ‘Next to Normal.'

Drew Rosene is the new owner of Bravo School of Performing Arts, which he’s renaming the Bravo Academy of Performing Arts. Rosene said smaller stages were suffering before the pandemic, but now the struggle is even greater.  

“With the arts, [COVID-19 has] kind of just killed them almost entirely,” Rosene said. 

Rosene said his studio is facing new challenges as he sets out to teach skills like dance, combat classes, and vocal performance through virtual platforms.  

“So much of it is about physical contact between actors, shaking hands, sharing props, utilizing costume pieces,” Rosene said.  

He told News On 6 that virtual mediums present newfound problems like connection errors and delays. Rosene said he’s witnessed very promising students lose interest in the arts because of how disconnected and drained they feel after a full day of virtual learning.  

However, in-person, performance-based classes run the risk of cross-contamination, so Rosene hopes to boost enrollment by staggering class times, limiting in-person slots, and offering online enrollment into classes that exceed capacity. Advanced students like Brecklynn Foster and Maddie Belt said this means the world to them.  

“We live and breathe it every day,” Foster said. “Like, the best part of our day is coming here." 

“It’s just really like, just the highlight of everything,” Belt said.  

These actors said that the pandemic has actually inspired art, and oftentimes, the best creations evolve from tribulations and tragedy. This has allowed them to enhance character development and even brainstorm story lines for future shows.  

Bravo is offering discounts to neighboring schools like Carnegie and Eisenhower. Rosene said anyone who lives within two miles of the studio can receive an extra 15% off their Educational Department classes.  

Rosene said there are theatre companies out there that have considered charging virtual admission, but many wonder whether the general public be willing to buy tickets, especially since they are competing with streaming services like Disney+ and Netflix. Rosene said theatre is about the experience, and the craft has long been sold on the idea that it’s live, up close, and personal.  

“Every show has its own little nuances and its own little variances that make it special,” Rosene said.  

Theatre Tulsa is taking advantage of this time by introducing a three-part series called “Tell Me A Story” featuring written pieces adapted from people’s true-life stories and developing them into live performances.  

“We’re going to have six different locations in each performance where actors will be stationed, and the audience will move from one station to the next,” said Jarrod Kopp, executive director of Theatre Tulsa.  

Kopp said there will only be 10 people in each performance at one time. Kopp said that Theatre Tulsa has selected the first round of stories and is now looking for directors to bring these stories to life. The deadline for director submissions is September 30, 2020.  

Both Kopp and Rosene said the arts play an integral part in life, and that theaters across the country may be closed, they are confident that the curtain will rise once again.  

“We can do all of these other practical things like sciences and medicines, and all of these other things that make it possible for us to live, but once we’re living why do we keep living? It’s the arts,” said Rosene.  

For more information on Theatre Tulsa, click here.  

For more information on Bravo School of Performing Arts, click here.