Irvington Theater Restarts Live Performances — Outdoors
This is the second in a series about the return of live performance art to the rivertowns.
By Brianna Staudt–
The Irvington Theater was built in 1902 and doesn’t have a ventilation system.
For anyone living through the Covid-19 pandemic, that statement raises an obvious concern.
Theater Manager Greg Allen doesn’t have a planned date for patrons to return to the historic indoor space. New York State requires certain ventilation standards be met for any arts venue to reopen right now—never mind patron comfort. But, as Allen points out, the theater never opened in the summer, anyway, due to its lack of air conditioning. (Its season runs from September through May.)
Allen isn’t waiting to bring live performance art back to his community, however: “This summer, we’re taking it outdoors.”
He’s co-producing the inaugural performances of the new Irvington Shakespeare Company this August at the O’Hara Nature Center in Irvington. The company will perform Twelfth Night August 6-22.
“People wanted to do something outdoors for so long, but this group — this young group that grew from the pandemic — is picking this up and taking that charge,” he says. “It’s wonderful. And we’re happy to partner with them on that.”
Admission will be free, but patrons will need to register for the shows.
The theater’s first live, outdoor performance will actually take place in June, before Twelfth Night gets off the ground. The Irvington Theater Commission is developing a to-be-announced series that will continue through August.
Finally, the Irvington Theater is partnering with River’s Edge Theater Company to co-produce its first outdoor performance in July. It’s a play that takes place in a parking lot.
The location for that play is, aptly, a to-be-announced parking lot.
“[The play] was written during Covid times, so the idea was to try to create a theater piece that would be safe and socially distant and something that you could do just about anywhere,” explains Meghan Covington, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of River’s Edge, an Irvington Theater partner founded a few months before the pandemic began.
“We were all ready to move forward and grow, and then it kind of came to a halt very quickly. So, we’re really excited to get back to in-person theater,” says Covington. “Zoom has been great — the virtual platform has been nice — but there’s something different about live theater and being there face-to-face with the audience.”
Patrons should be able to reserve tickets to these summer performances on the Irvington theater website by mid-May.
“I am cautiously optimistic,” says Allen. “We’re using the gatherings outside this summer as a litmus test to see where people’s comfort level is for getting together before heading back inside a building.”
When fall rolls around, it remains to be seen whether it will be feasible and economical for the Irvington Theater to install portable ventilation. If occupancy restrictions remain even with the ventilation, it may not make financial sense for companies to rent the space. (Irvington Theater is primarily a rental house, though it does produce some of its own shows, including its film festival.)
Over the past year, Allen sometimes went to sit alone in the silence of the closed theater, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984.
“It’s a comforting feeling, and it’s also very sad when a theater is empty,” he says.
Anyone wishing to support the Irvington Theater during this time can reach out to Allen directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Irvington Theater: https://www.irvingtontheater.com/
Irvington Shakespeare Company: https://irvshakespeare.org/
River’s Edge Theater Company: https://www.riversedgetheatre.com/
Read the first part of this series about the Tarrytown Music Hall welcoming back the first arts patrons in-person at: https://thehudsonindependent.com/tarrytown-music-hall-to-welcome-back-first-arts-patrons-in-person/