Tulsa venues are slowly but surely coming back to life after many productions were put on hiatus because of the pandemic.
The Tulsa Community College theater department is planning three months at a time, says Kelly Clark, TCC’s dean of visual and performing arts. The pandemic has posed challenges, but one benefit has been the opportunity to slow down between shows. “This allowed my staff the time to take a breath, to do some of these more intricate projects,” Clark says.
While large indoor events at the VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education have been avoided, outdoor concerts with the Signature Symphony are an option for socially distanced events when spring weather returns. Meanwhile, virtual events are in full swing, Clark says. In the Connecting the Dots series, Signature Symphony musicians act as virtual hosts and discuss a variety of musical topics.
Tulsa Ballet limited 2020 performances to small events at Studio K, and the Performing Arts Center held an Arts in the Air concert series this past fall on the Williams Green.
“We had to create works that reflect the social distancing rules of these times,” says Marcello Angelini, Tulsa Ballet artistic director. “We dance wearing masks, we ask our audience to wear masks, and we even invested close to $70,000 to install an air-sanitizing system in our facilities, one proved to remove pathogens from the air.”
The PAC has upgraded its air system, as well, CEO Mark Frie says. TCC, Tulsa Ballet and the PAC are all working toward a new normal where people can safely enjoy live performances. “The theater is about a shared experience with the audience, and you can’t replicate that with a virtual experience,” Frie says. “(The pandemic) has been devastating to our arts community, but I am confident the performing arts will return with a renewed sense of purpose and place.”
Angelini agrees. “As we move toward live performances, we will engage in a dance of sort with our audiences, our patrons, our dance makers and our dancers, and together we’ll figure out how the pandemic has redefined our tastes and habits.”