Rockford theater community struggles amid coronavirus pandemic

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:21 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - As the worldwide fine arts community grapples with the lack of performances, local theater companies deal with the changes.

"It's a really tough situation out there for people in the performing arts," said Jeff Hendry, Rockford University Performing Arts Chair.

The lights have been dimmed at theaters across the country for more than four months due to COVID-19, something unheard of for longtime thespians.

"No one has, no one has. I mean Broadway was closed down, I think for a week after 9/11. Some of the theaters in Chicago were closed down at that time, but it was for a week at the most," said Hendry.

For theater students like Chanel Black, the loss of performing hits hard.

"It's definitely been a struggle. Generally, you have a whole semester, so like 13 weeks, working with teachers working with your instructor, actively having people listen to you. So, it's just been kind of me, myself and I, trying to practice holding myself accountable," said Black.

In spite of the setback, Rockford University's Theater Department is gearing up to lift its curtain again, with safety restrictions in mind.

"We will be having two live performances, but we are restricted to having 50 people in this space that normally would seat for 450 approximately," said Hendry.

"Everyone is just really optimistic about the future, even though there is some fear. Theater is just something that's been around since the beginning of time really, so even if it looks different now, I am confident that no matter what happens, there's still going to be a place for all of us," said Lucy Parlapiano.

The fall performance schedule is as follows:

The Covid Cavalcade: A Socially Distanced Entertainment

October 1, 2, and 3 at 7:30 p.m. and October 4 at 2:00 p.m.

Spoon River Anthology

November 12, 13, 14 at 7:30 p.m.

November 15 at 2:00 p.m.

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