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Theaters issue COVID-19 policies ahead of fall performances

A number of Maine theaters have announced some restrictions for guests and performers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

MAINE, USA — As the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to be a cause for concern, theaters across the state are preparing for upcoming shows and performers by putting new policies and restrictions in place for guests and performers.

"I’d say the only lesson we’ve learned so far is that we have to be able to adapt to whatever happens to come down the pike," said Patrick Myers, Executive Director for the Centre Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft. 

As of right now, The Centre Theatre is requiring all guests, staff, and performers to wear masks. Myers said these requirements will remain in place until the community transition level is downgraded to moderate for at least one week.

In a few weeks, auditions will be held for its upcoming play, "Escanaba in Da Moonlight," by Jeff Daniels. Myers said the performances will take place during the second and third weeks of November. The play will be the theater's second show of the year. 

Meanwhile, in Bangor, the Penobscot Theatre Company is following stricter rules. All guests must show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination, or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours prior to the show. All guests are also required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. 

Performers at the theater will all be required to be fully vaccinated, as they will not be wearing masks during performances. They will also undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. 

Penobscot Theatre Company's first show of the year, "Miracle on 34th Street," will kick off in November. Jen Shepherd, Executive Director of the theater, said although their opening was pushed back a month, the showings will be several weeks longer than usual. The theater currently has eight shows planned through next summer.

As for some of the schools in Maine, the University of Maine's Collins Center for the Arts and Husson University's Gracie Theatre are preparing for the upcoming semester. Both theaters will be abiding by their respective school's policies on masking and vaccinations.

Jeri Misler, the managing director for the Gracie Theatre, said they are requiring all patrons of the theater to only wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. All performers are requested to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status and are not required to wear masks during performances. As of right now, there are nine shows planned for the upcoming school year. 

At the Collins Center for the Arts, executive director Danny Williams said masks are currently required for all guests and performers, regardless of vaccination status. Williams said he is hopeful they may be able to make some exceptions of mask-wearing for solo performers, but it is still unclear if that will be allowed. There are about 20-25 performances and shows already planned for the Collins Center for the upcoming school year.

 As of right now, masks are required in all University of Maine buildings, including the theater.