Reopening brings both joy and extra work to theaters

Tallinn City Theater.
Tallinn City Theater. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government cabinet made a decision on Tuesday to open the theaters from May 24. Performing art institutions are glad about getting the chance to greet their audience again. At the same time, theaters have to deal with changing tens of thousands of tickets of the canceled shows.

"We are a little sad that the opening didn't happen earlier. We were really hoping to open from May 17. With every week that passes, there are fewer people coming to see the shows, at the end of May and start of June, people have other obligations and interests, Margus Allikmaa, The Estonian Association of Performing Arts Institutions (Eesti Etendusasutuste Liit), told ETV current news show "Aktuaalne kaamera".

The artistic director of Estonian Youth Theater, Mirko Rajas, admitted that he finds it paradoxical that they can start at the end of the season. "We have several months' worth of unplayed projects and only two of them are premiering. We will definitely play for the whole of June."

For the plays to take place, the 2+2 requirement, 50 percent hall occupancy, 200 people at one event need to be complied with.

"For big halls, 200 is an unjustified number - when we imagine the big halls of Estonia Theater and Vanemuine where there is a lot of air and space in the halls. I really don't understand it," Allikmaa said.

The restrictions create extra work for the theaters. "In relation to the 50 percent occupancy, we need to communicate with the audience. I hope that people are reasonable and understand. We are trying to offer solutions for the next season," Director of Tallinn City Theater, Raivo Põldmaa, said.

In addition to the unplayed performances in the spring, the tickets left over from last autumn also need to be changed. Allikmaa said that the theaters have to deal with exchanging tens of thousands of tickets. This means that there are not many new tickets to the shows.

In addition to the questions concerning the number of audiences, the obligation to close the theaters at 10 p.m. has also caused many questions.

"We know a lot of productions that do not close at 10 p.m., so what to do with them? Should tell the audience at 9.59 p.m. that now give short applause and then get out? I really hope that the government will decide that the performances that start at a traditional time at 7 or 8 p.m. can still play until the end," Allikmaa noted.

Margus Allikmaa told ETV morning show "Terevisioon" that while a year ago it seemed that it was not economically reasonable to play in theaters with less than 50 percent occupancy, now theaters have been open for such a short amount of time that most theaters would be ready to open the doors with a smaller occupancy requirement.

"It always makes sense to make theater," Allikmaa noted in response to the question whether it would make sense to open doors in theaters even with a occupancy rate of less than 50 percent.

"A year ago, we thought that if it went below 50 percent, it would be economically questionable whether it was worth it, but because theaters have so little time to play and actors haven't had the chance to go on stage, most theaters today are ready to do it."


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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