Live performances are a pastime that have been enjoyed by countless audiences for generations. Whether it is a musical, a stand up comedy, or a concert, live performance has grown to still be a huge source of entertainment and hobby for many to this day.
COVID-19 has changed the experience of live performances in ways we as a community have never seen before. We are witnessing concerts being postponed into next year, cancellations of school productions and even Broadway itself has shown the biggest struggle due to its main source of income being the audience.
“Broadway is now closed till the end of May. This has forced theaters and actors to think outside of the box and find new ways to stay connected with our audiences,” said Reed.
The Stockton Civic Theatre has hosted their second annual Young@Heart virtual benefit on Oct. 17. The Young@Heart virtual benefit concert was a free virtual event hosted on the Stockton Civic Theatre Youtube channel. The concert was to raise money for The Bill Grotemeyer Fund, which helps support both theatre education for the youth of Stockton and the Stockton Civic Theatre. Board member and theatre education director James Reed organized the concert that consisted of alumni of SCT and the theatre’s youth program.
“The challenge of trying to create a full experience like last year for people to take home and experience from the safety of their living room,” said Reed.
Although this year had to be hosted virtually due to CDC guidelines for COVID-19, that did not stop the SCT community from giving an all out performance. The thrilling and unmatchable experience of sitting in an audience and witnessing true talents of live performance was mimicked through the screens of the audience sitting at home. The Young@Heart virtual benefit concert consisted of many talented singers and musicians who brought their emotions into their performance
“This year we still partnered with restaurants to cater dinner for families of 2 and 4 and created a virtual table. Along with their dinner the virtual table received wine, lemonade, dessert and a table decorating kit. We encourage them to decorate their table a submit pictures on FB using #youngathearttable,” said Reed.
We are seeing now how COVID-19 has not affected small businesses, but the cinematic and live performances as well. Stockton has experienced a major loss of movie theatres due to the financial struggle the pandemic has brought to entertainment. There is this same fear going on within the live performance world of shutdowns and restrictions of its authentic and one of a kind experience.
“We have been forced to redefine theatre and provide it to audiences. Will these new virtual ways replace live theater, no, but can it enhance us going forward, yes,” said Reed.
The future of theatre and theatre education so far has brightened. The SCT community has been working together to ensure the opportunity to act and participate in theatre production for the years to come.
“I would love to offer more access to theatre and performances for the Youth of Stockton to introduce them to this art form and allow them to fall in love with the beautiful craft,” said Reed.