A 17th-century plague doctor wearing a mask equipped with long breathing tubes and spices to drive away foul aromas, which were thought to convey sickness.
A host of local arts organizations have cancelled or suspended performances and other programming. The Children’s Theatre Company, the Guthrie Theater, Minnesota Opera, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Theater Latté Da are just a few of the larger organizations that have taken these drastic steps to protect patrons and reduce the spread of the Coronavirus through vulnerable populations.
Many of the cancellations were announced today, following updated state and local advisories to limit the size of public gatherings. This afternoon for example, CTC released a statement saying, “Children’s Theatre Company’s highest priority is the health and safety of young people, our patrons, our staff, and our community. In an effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are canceling all performances and education programs beginning immediately through Sunday, April 5.” Two mainstage productions – Spamtown, USA and The Rainbow Fish – are affected.
Minnesota Opera went a step further, announcing that its hotly anticipated productions of Edward Tulane (a planned world premiere) and Don Giovanni would be moved to a future season, due to the uncertainty about how long the current outbreak would last. “Our decision was solidified today given the impending guidance from state officials to cancel or postpone all events of 250 people or more,” noted MN Opera President Ryan Taylor. “As we would care for members of our family at a time of crisis, we are diligently trying to care for not only our audiences, but also our family of creators, ensuring that we are not putting the health of anyone at risk. We must not only balance the well-being of our community’s health, but also take care of our artists.”
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra was one of several organizations that announced a two-week pause, pending updated information. Effective today, the SPCO is canceling all performances from March 13 until March 29. Subscribers and other ticket holders were encouraged to explore the organization’s extensive archive of free concert recordings online. Across the river, the Minnesota Orchestra will play to an empty hall tonight, performing for a radio audience.
The State of Minnesota’s guidance involving events with 250 or more attendees hits particularly home for organizations with larger venues. The Guthrie Theater, for example, has cancelled all remaining performances of Twelfth Night and The Bacchae as well as the upcoming performances of CENTERPLAY. At this time, the company plans on reopening its doors with the Jane Austen classic Emma on April 11.
Theater Latté Da found itself suspending performances right on the eve of the official opening of its revival of La Bohème, which was scheduled for Saturday. If all goes according to plan, the cast will reunite in two weeks to open the show on April 1. The Jungle Theater, by contrast,
plans to open Redwood today for performances this evening and tomorrow, then suspend performances pending new information. Update: All performances of Redwood are now being postponed.
Similar disruptions have rippled through the country, affecting arts and education at all levels. Yesterday, for example, Minnesota State College and University Chancellor Devinder Malhotra announced that each of the system’s schools would extend their spring breaks by one week to allow time for faculty to prepare for teaching all classes online. As with area performing arts organizations, how long these measures will be needed is currently unclear.
Update 1: The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts has announced that all Ordway-presented events will be postponed through April 19. Rescheduling, should it be possible for specific events, will be announced later.
Update 2: Chanhassen Dinner Theatres has cancelled all performances, wedding receptions, and other activities through April 12.
Update 3: The Illusion Theater has cancelled all remaining performances of The Pink Unicorn and Urinetown.
Update 4: The History Theatre has postponed its productions of Not For Sale and Not in Our Neighborhood for a future season. Runestone!: A Rock Musical is still expected to open May 2.