The coronavirus has prompted some unimaginable recent news: NCAA basketball in empty arenas; Harvard University (and numerous other colleges) telling their students not to bother returning after spring break; the entire nation of Italy shutting down.
Today the World Health Organization made it official: Planet Earth is suffering a pandemic.
Here in Chicago, however—in spite of postponement of the St. Patrick’s Day parades—we are mostly chill, for now. Just stocking up on hand sanitizer, bumping elbows, and going about our business. So it was that on Tuesday, League of Chicago Theatres executive director Deb Clapp issued a statement to “reassure our patrons that all of Chicago’s theatres remain open for business.”
Clapp said the League is monitoring developments and is “sharing safeguards and best practices,” while member theaters are increasing cleaning, supplying hand sanitizers, and “encouraging audience members who are sick to stay home.”
That came after the University of Chicago limited university-sponsored events to no more than 100 people, prompting its resident theater company, Court Theatre, to “cap” audiences for any performance of the production it’s opening this week of Henrik Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea. According to a statement from artistic director Charles Newell and executive director Angel Ysaguirre, Court is also wiping down “seats and surfaces with disinfectant after every performance” and encouraging ill patrons to stay home. Tickets will be exchanged.
Chicago Humanities Festival events are continuing as scheduled; so are concerts at Symphony Center, which reported no noticeable drop in attendance or ticket sales, and “no changes of the concert schedule at this time.” An Art Institute spokesperson said that so far, attendance “has been meeting projections”; apart from boosting the museum’s number of sanitizer stations, no changes have been made.
And at Lyric Opera, where years of work and a major investment are due to culminate in an event designed to draw an international audience—three full rounds of Richard Wagner’s mammoth four-opera Ring Cycle, plus related programming—a spokesperson said “everything’s in rehearsal.” It’s scheduled for April 13 to May 3.
On Wednesday, Northwestern University’s Block Museum canceled events between March 13 and April 15, though its galleries will remain open.
Stay tuned. v