The Broad Stage’s 2020-2021 season of in-person theatrical performances are set to begin this January, but officials of the famed theater said Thursday they hope to hold one outdoor, physically distanced event this Fall that will complement its upcoming pairings of online and in-person programming.
Santa Monica College announced in early May it would continue to keep its campus closed through the Fall, so leaders of The Broad Stage intend to begin its in-theater season in January and, in the meantime, will present a “robust” set of programs online starting in July through its streaming portal The Broad Stage At Home.
The upcoming season will be the first held by The Broad Stage since Rob Bailis became Artistic and Executive Director in June 2019. And while the scheduled performances are still some time away, Bailis said Thursday he announced the schedule this week partly due to precedent but also in an effort to provide hope to locals in need.
“I think it’s really important that people in a very difficult moment have something hopeful to look forward to,” Bailis said, mentioning this is also a time when organizations like The Broad Stage are talking to members about what they can expect for the coming year. “So part of it is just precedent but it’s mostly about wanting to say, ‘We’re listening to you. We’re with you. We know you want to be hearing from us as regularly as you can and we’re trying to share that information as quickly and as effectively as we can.”
Though the upcoming season has been described as modified in scope due to the COVID-19 crisis, Bailis is still optimistic that it will pave the way to “a new artistic vision” that is at the center of the organization’s future. But first, he is busy trying to ensure The Broad Stage will be able to present the world premiere of the mobile, theatrical chamber opera Birds In The Moon to residents live at an outdoor venue.
“Much of the problem with coming back into theaters isn’t just the audience; it’s also the safety of the artist, the safety of the crew, the safety of the staff. And if you’ve ever been backstage to the theater, then you know it’s very hard to physically distance,” Bailis said.
“The thing that gives us the most hope is the way this set is designed, though,” Bailis added, detailing how the opera would allow for performers, technicians and all who are involved on the set to maintain a safe physical distance while the performance is in action. “And because it will be done outdoors, we can actually physically distance the audience and still have them be able to enjoy the full experience.”
The only question that remains to be answered between now and September is what will the exact location be.
“We’re thinking first and foremost about public parks as the right partners for this particular work of art,” Bailis said, “because it will arrive, literally, as a giant shipping container that opens up into this very visual world, so it’s a perfect piece to do kind of in a parking lot or in a park.”
No matter where it’s held, though, the free performance will surely be a treat to those who attend, which is something that can be said for all of the upcoming performances this season, according to Bailis, who invited residents to view the entire schedule of the upcoming season by visiting the website: thebroadstage.org/.