Barrington Stage Company moves first production outdoors due to pandemic

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PITTSFIELD — What was supposed to be the first indoor production in the country with union actors since COVID-19 now is moving outdoors.

Barrington Stage Company's upcoming production of "Harry Clarke" — it originally was planned to be shown in a reconfigured Boyd-Quinson Mainstage — will have to move outdoors, under a tent.

BSC said it has learned that Gov. Charlie Baker is planning to delay implementation of the second step of Phase 3 of his reopening plan for the state, which would allow indoor theatrical productions, though the governor hasn't made any formal announcement yet.

In order to meet the requirements set forth by the state under the second step of Phase 3, Barrington Stage had reduced the theater's capacity from about 520 seats to 163, removing rows of seats to accommodate social distancing, and replaced its air-conditioning unit.

Now, the one-man show, directed by Julianne Boyd and starring Mark H. Dold, will be set up under a tent on the grounds of the Polish Community Club, at 55 Linden St. All safety protocols for outdoor theaters, including the use of masks and socially distant seating, will be in effect.

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"We're happy to be doing the show, because it's such a fabulous show. We would have loved to do it indoors because we worked really hard and had made substantial changes that could lead the way for other indoor theaters," Boyd said. "But, we're just on pause right now, and need to wait until the governor allows us to open up."

The staging will remain the same, Boyd said, noting that Barrington Stage had planned for a possible change in venue if the production had to be moved outdoors.

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For Dold, who portrays more than a dozen characters throughout the 85-minute production, there will be some changes, including the use of a microphone and not having the support of lighting design.

"It was always in the discussion — if we had a blocking question or a lighting question, someone would always say, 'But, what if it's outside?' Dold said. "Or, 'How would this read from a tent?' "

The production is set to begin previews Wednesday and run through Aug. 16. All shows are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. The press opening originally was scheduled for 3 p.m. Aug, 9, but it, too, has been moved to 7:30 p.m.

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The tent capacity is limited to 100 — including cast, musicians, crew and patrons.

"Theater will give people hope," Boyd said. "Whether indoors or outdoors, it will have that effect."

Berkshire Theatre Group already was planning to hold its production of "Godspell" under a tent in the Colonial Theatre parking lot, beginning Aug. 6.

Lily Goldberg contributed to this report.


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