Wilma Hybrid Model

October 1, 2020

Globe Design by Sara Brown, Misha Kachman, Matt Saunders

We don’t yet know whether Fat Ham and Minor Character – the final shows in our 2020-21 Season – will be produced fully digitally or with a hybrid approach between online and in-person.

We will not re-open the theater before it is safe to do so, and we have all City and union (Actors Equity, IATSE, USA, and SDC) protocols implemented for returning to the theater, with consultation from medical professionals.

But if the Wilma Theater returns to live production in early 2021, we will do so using a hybrid model, combining an innovative approach to both theatre design and digital distribution.

Wilma Globe

The in-person part of the hybrid approach is the Wilma Globe, a new configuration of our space, which is inspired by historical models, including Shakespeare’s Globe.

As you can see in the pictures and videos, the Wilma Globe is an arena, surrounded by two levels of audiences-boxes, each separated from one another by wooden dividers, but open to the stage. Depending on the specific needs of the show, it can be reconfigured into a semi-circle, horseshoe, and more. This Globe can fit as little as 30 and up to 100 people, and will provide a higher level of safety and comfort to our audiences.

The Globe will offer enhanced accessibility and safety protocols, which we outline below.

Video Streaming

But our full capacity used to be more than 300. How can we reach the same number of people? Our answer: Video-Streaming.

Our plan is to approach streaming not merely as a technical solution but as an opportunity for artistic invention.

We hope to discreetly install about a dozen cameras inside the Wilma Globe, uniquely placed for each production. Some of these would take care of the big picture, while others could be as small and specific as a camera hidden on an actor’s costume. As the director is rehearsing the show, a video designer would create a “video-script” of the production, allowing us to stream a high quality, artistically planned version of the play. This way we can open our productions to a much broader circle of potential audiences.

Enhanced Accessibility

The entire lower level of the Globe offers accessible seating, which can be entered by existing elevators in our building, next to an accessible bathroom. This is more accessible seating than in the Wilma’s current configuration. We will also continue to focus on how the theater can be more accessible to people with limited mobility when we return.

Enhanced Safety Protocols

We envision a theatrical space that provides a higher level of safety than might be required, even after we are all allowed to come together. As long as it is unsafe to gather in larger groups, or to even bring our staff and actors together, we will continue creating virtual work – and only virtual work.

Here are examples of decisions we’ve made so far:

  • Constant monitoring of local conditions, as well as active participation in national and local conversations with colleagues and experts on best practices.
  • Contingency plans for pause or shut at any point in a production process, should health and safety be compromised or threatened.
  • Continued accommodation of remote work for our employees, including HotHouse company and teaching artists.
  • Masks mandatory for all patrons, crew, and front of house staff
  • Cleaning and sanitizing before and after each performance.
  • HVAC: Increased/ improved air filtering, purging the air before and after each performance.
  • Curtains on the back-sides of the Globe booths.
  • Safe dressing-rooms and rehearsal protocols.
  • Performing plays – such as Fat Ham and Minor Character – with no intermission.
  • Using three separate entrances to the theater to allow for patrons’ safe distancing entering and exiting the theater.
  • One-way patrons’ movement around the Globe to/out their boxes, and timed entrance tickets.
  • Increase in paid front of house staff to direct audience flow.
  • Bathrooms will be restricted to a few patrons at a time.
  • Reduction of printed materials, including tickets and programs, to limit in-person contact.
  • Ongoing coordination with Good Karma Cafe.

We are staying informed about research and recommendations about additional protocols and best practices including:

  • Minimum safe distances from actors to patrons.
  • Regularity of actors and crew testing.
  • Monitoring of the audiences’ symptoms.
  • Transparent masks for the actors.
  • Usage of microphones.
  • Contactless concessions and box office transactions
  • Transparent covers on the front of the Globe boxes.

This list is an ongoing process; additional protocols will be added as we learn from our unions, government agencies, medical professionals, and our community of artists and patrons who will share this space with us.

We know that we cannot go back to what was before; we have to create and produce in a radically different way. We are using this time and our resources to reflect deeply on safe and inclusive ways for sharing our work.

If you want to share feedback on the imagining and implementation of this concept, please reach out using this form.

Yury Urnov, Lead Artistic Director, 2020-21 Season
Leigh Goldenberg, Managing Director
James Ijames, Co-Artistic Director
Morgan Green, Co-Artistic Director
Blanka Zizka, Co-Artistic Director

The Wilma’s hybrid model for the 2020-21 Season is supported by The Barra Foundation.