Jeff Woodward, managing director of the Dallas Theater Center, said Tuesday that because the company’s annual production of A Christmas Carol involves closer-than-usual interplay between performers and theatergoers, the DTC is changing its COVID-19 policy.
For the holiday show, which opens Nov. 24th, audience members older than 12 will be required to have a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination — in addition to being masked. Masks are still required for all theatergoers, as they were before, in accordance with Dallas County guidelines.
“Unlike a traditional theater production where the audience is on one side and the stage is on the other side,” Woodward said, in artistic director Kevin Moriarty’s staging, “the action surrounds the audience. There’s no separation, so we were concerned because the actors are obviously unmasked and at times they are right next to an audience member.”
Woodward said that, although COVID vaccines are now available for children younger than 12, the vaccine needs at least four weeks to take full effect, and the Carol opens in less than two. So requiring such vaccines for younger children would not be effective.
The DTC’s new rules are similar to ones followed by many professional, regional theater companies, including the Alley Theatre in Houston and the Zachary Scott Theatre Center in Austin.
The full release:
DALLAS (November 9, 2021) – Dallas Theater Center (DTC) announces changes to their COVID-19 policy. The theater will require audience members older than 12 to have a negative COVID-19 test or to provide proof of vaccination. The new policy will start with A Christmas Carol opening November 24. It does not affect the current production of The Supreme Leader.
“Unlike a traditional theater, music or sports event where there is a clear separation between the audience and the performers, our production of A Christmas Carol surrounds the audience. This leads to a thrilling experience, but at times actors and audience members can be right next to each other,” said Jeff Woodward, Managing Director. “Since the actors are unmasked, we felt it was safest for all over 12 years of age to be fully vaccinated. We realize this may be inconvenient for some of our patrons, but the safety of our audience, artists, and staff continues to be a priority of our company.”
The decision was made after evaluating the latest COVID-19 case reporting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dallas County. The city’s COVID-19 transmission rates remain high. Masks will continue to be required regardless of vaccination or testing status. DTC also strongly recommends adhering to social distancing guidelines by maintaining a distance of 6 feet between people not part of their households, wherever possible
Dallas Theater Center will also forgo concessions to allow additional comfortability for guests. Guests will not be required to show I.D. and DTC will not save patrons information. To view DTC’s COVID-19 Guest Policy, please visit www.dallastheatercenter.org/covid-19-guest-policy.
Patrons will show proof at the security check.