COVID-19 Update 7 Stages
COVID-19 Update from 7 Stages' Managing Director Mack Headrick.
“The short of it is, we shut down immediately, having just started rehearsals for Betties and having one of our renters close mid-run,” says Mack Headrick, managing director of 7 Stages in Little Five Points.
7 Stages runs a summer youth program for teens, “Youth Creates,” in partnership with a theater in Holland. When the program switched to the new virtual reality imposed by COVID-19, Headrick was struck by a remarkable difference.
“The Dutch interact with our students by projecting our Zoom on the big screen in the theater while they share the same physical space,” he says. “It’s a daily reminder of how bad [the United States] screwed it up and what could or should be.”
Headrick does not anticipate opening to the public until 2021. “That could change if numbers start to go back down, but I am not holding my breath,” he says.
This fall, 7 Stages will offer a number of virtual works currently in progress and is looking to partner with area schools as part of the NEA “Big Read” project, which could provide some relief to overburdened teachers and parents. A series of four productions were submitted for grant funding to the Fulton County Arts Council (FCAC) under its “Virtual Arts initiative.”
“We hope to hear about that soon, but those projects are more or less penciled in,” Headrick says. “We’re pretty sure they’ll happen in some form regardless of FCAC funding.”
Looking expansively toward the future, Headrick thinks “the way we make theater in this country is broken. While public support is always going to be a major factor, there are better models out there. This notion of spending all those resources and all that time to get a show on its feet and run for a few weeks only to throw it all away is absurd. I am interested in developing deeper relationships with partner performance companies through which we create a group of co-productions.”
Headrick envisions three or four companies mounting their own shows, then hosting their fellow productions as a tour. “There are lots of things to work through,” he says. “I just know there has to be a better way from a financial, environmental, and social perspective.”