Q&A with Susan V. Booth
Q&A with Susan V. Booth
Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, Alliance Theatre
ATLANTA, April 3, 2020 — Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have rippled around the world. While governments strive to protect the health of its citizens, communities have come together in ways unlike ever before. Since suspending the remainder of its 2019/20 season productions on March 13, 2020, the Alliance Theatre has been working non-stop to play its part in the community effort. Susan V. Booth, Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, sits down for a Q&A on what’s been happening.
Three weeks ago, the Alliance Theatre announced it would suspend all in-person productions for the remainder of its 2019/20 season. What have you been up to since then?
A lot. Even though our theatre doors have been closed, we have been moving swiftly to support the community. Our costume shop is busy producing more than 300 face masks and gowns from home for Emory Healthcare. And our other artists are working hard to produce content to keep kids and adults entertained and most importantly connected.
How is the Alliance Theatre still producing and delivering content?
I am proud of our innovative staff for quickly coming up with creative solutions for our content. The Alliance Theatre was one of the first regional theaters to convert its on-stage production - Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed- into digital streaming content. Fans can stream the show online through April 12. Plus, we are working with the AEA to stream even more digital productions for fans to enjoy from home.
Many parents now find themselves juggling working from home and being an educator while their children are out of school. In addition to Naked Mole Rat, what resources are available for parents and their children?
Another creative solution our staff has come up with is transforming our physical camps and classes for kids into engaging, virtual experiences. From April 6-10, we are hosting a “Virtual Spring Break Camp” where teaching artists will lead campers through the day using live sessions, one-on-one coaching, and audio guided activities. At the end of the week, each participant will receive a video compilation of their work throughout camp to remember their experience.
Are any resources available too for adults?
Absolutely. From strategic storytelling in the virtual space, to mindful meeting facilitation, we have a series of trainings available for professionals to navigate this challenging shift to working virtually, as well as opportunities for adults to try out our acting classes on a variety of topics from acting on stage and screen, to script and screenplay writing, to voiceover workshops, and more. These classes are available for many skill levels, from hobbyists to professionals
What can fans expect from the upcoming 2020/21 season?
The lineup of productions for the Alliance Theatre’s 52nd season is going to amaze. We look forward to sharing more information soon, but for now, know that we are bringing some of the greatest artists from Atlanta and across the nation. To your stage. To tell your stories. Stories of American heroes, stories of courage, and stories shaping our world today.
Click here to sign up and be notified as soon as the schedule is announced.
When will the new season start?
It’s too soon to tell. While we wait for further guidance from the Center for Disease Control and government officials, we have plans developed to accommodate whichever timeline gets us back to normal in the fastest, safest way possible.
What kind of financial impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on the Alliance Theatre and what are you doing to address those challenges?
Like so many in our community, the non-profit arts world has been hit hard. Since day 1, we have been looking into ways to stay financially sound. We have had to make some difficult choices. As a larger organization, the Alliance Theatre, as part of the Woodruff Arts Center, unfortunately does not qualify for assistance from the Small Business Administration. Yet despite these obstacles, we have plans in place to retain the majority of our staff.
That does not mean we are without tough decisions though. Most staff, including myself, will be taking pay reductions based on income levels. A small number of staff will unfortunately have to be temporarily furloughed, but we are committed to maintaining their health insurance benefits and setting them up with the new congressional stimulus package to keep their pay as close to whole as possible.
These decisions were not easy. However, we feel this approach best addresses our financial responsibility while showing compassion to every individual in our organization and ensuring the lowest possible negative impacts overall.
How can people get involved?
We encourage fans to visit our Virtual Resources page for more information on digital streaming, online learning, and more.
And if you can, please consider a donation. Every little bit counts during these unprecedented times.
Anything else you’d like to share?
The Alliance Theatre is focused on storytelling that expands hearts and minds on stage and off. The silver lining in these difficult times is how everyone has come together as a community despite being physically separated. The stories I’ve heard have been powerful and inspiring. I encourage people to continue sharing their stories. These are the times when we need them most.