Face Shields up After Curtain Goes Up

Face shields are no substitute for face coverings with tight seals over the mouth and nose. However, as we began discussing last week, for the sake of a safe theatrical performance as we begin reopening Phase Four, they should play a role. While an ideal production during these times would have modified blocking to socially distance all actors on stage, that may not always be possible. This may be due to size of the cast, or more likely, stage.

At my local production, the first vocal rehearsal had the entire cast spaced out as best the could in the stage room. To my surprise, everyone kept their face coverings on for the duration. The vocal director himself used both a cloth face covering and a face shield. He also threw out the idea that in addition to being mic’d for the performance, the cast may be asked to wear face shields.

The first set of questions that came to mind were all around the microphones.

  • how are they going to handle the mic distribution?
  • Will each performer have dedicated hardware?
  • How often will they disinfect mics?

Once those logistics are in place, the combination of face shields and mics could offer your theatrical group a safe pathway to a streamed show, live or scheduled. Personal face shields is just one of many precautions that you should consider. In addition, I’ll restate disinfecting. This applies to the usual high touch areas, but also props, costumes, and mics. Last week I also mentioned using digital backgrounds instead of physical sets. If this isn’t feasible for your theatrical group, consider putting up partitions as barrier shields.

I look forward to these elements bringing added safety to theatrical productions and becoming creative elements. Directors can break the fourth wall and draw attention to the added scenery barriers. Costume designers have freedom to style face shields as part of traditional headpieces or new one altogether. It could turn out to be a lot of fun.

The important part is the safety and the integrity of the performance, especially if you are considering a live stream. Ask your performers to face shield up when they can’t distance and a mask would prohibit the proper facial expression the role demands. Yes, they may be uncomfortable. Yes, the acoustics may not be ideal. But it will keep everyone on stage and safe.

Stay healthy and stream on!

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