Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Auckland Theatre Company's 'Grand Horizons' show will go on

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Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Auckland Theatre Company's 'Grand Horizons' show will go on

An Auckland play is raising the curtain despite the red traffic light setting.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Grand Horizons is going ahead with its opening night on February 8 and is adjusting performances to cater for audiences capped at 100 people.

Although that is undoubtedly a blow for all involved, those involved with the production are grateful the performances can still go ahead.

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Director Jennifer Ward-Lealand says she is looking forward to being able to put on a nice distraction despite the Omicron outbreak derailing plans, and all involved in the production are well-versed in adapting to performing in a world with Covid-19.

“I’m not buying into any doomsday scenarios at this point, because I’m more focused on getting a really good show up,” she tells the Herald when asked if the current Omicron outbreak keeps her up at night as a creative professional.

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ATC’s production of Grand Horizons, a play written by Bess Wohl, stars Annie Whittle and Roy Billing and is a comedy about a 50-year marriage that is suddenly on the rocks. Ward-Lealand says it will connect with audiences who will almost certainly be able to recognise similar family dynamics.

Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Auckland Theatre Company's 'Grand Horizons' show will go on

Annie Whittle and Roy Billing star in the comedy about a 50-year marriage on the brink of collapse. Photo / Ross Brown

And theatre is more important than ever, Ward-Lealand says.

The Auckland Theatre Company production has been operating with strict Covid-19 protocols, including until recently the use of rapid antigen tests.

“Theatre is there to reflect our humanity back at us, to hold the mirror up to nature as Shakespeare says,” Ward-Lealand says.

“You can just sit in a room and have your imagination and your thoughts widened. Which is a good thing for us. I mean, what did everyone turn to in lockdown? The arts,” she added.

When asked what audiences can expect to get from the show, she says: “What is the nature of parenting? What is marriage – what does marriage mean? And what does a long-term marriage mean? And how much of yourself do you give up?”

She wants to make it clear that audiences will be really safe in the theatre.

“I understand some people won’t want to go out. But if they do want to come out and take their mind off everything, go out and see something really terrific, this is the perfect chance.”

ATC CEO and artistic director Jonathan Bileski says the theatre industry has adapted well to the challenges Covid has presented them and wants to reassure ticketholders they are doing everything they can to keep patrons safe. Refunds will be issued if people can longer attend due to Covid.

“We will be operating our venue using the vaccine pass system, people will come in and groups of people will be separated when they sit in the auditorium,” he explained.

In line with rules for gatherings, ticketholders will be required to wear a mask inside the theatre.

“Right now, we need an escape from the everyday life of year three of a pandemic. And we just so happen to have a comedy on our stage with Grand Horizons,” he says.

“I think that’s what theatre, and music, and dance can do is bring you out of yourself, out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary.”

• Grand Horizons runs from February 8 to March 5 at Auckland’s Waterfront Theatre.

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