Theater News

Philadelphia's Wilma Theater Designs Socially Distanced Auditorium

The venue is inspired by Shakespeare’s Globe.

The "Wilma Globe," as imagined by designers Sara Brown, Misha Kachman, and Matt Saunders.
The "Wilma Globe," as imagined by designers Sara Brown, Misha Kachman, and Matt Saunders.
(image via the Wilma Theater)

A theater in Philadelphia is taking its cues from Elizabethan times with plans to stage performances while the pandemic continues.

The Wilma Theater, working with set designers and video designers, has sketched out what it has coined the "Wilma Globe," a two-tier auditorium that uses partitions between households to keep parties distant from one another. It is, according to the company, inspired by Shakespeare's Globe in London. The set designers are Misha Kachman, Sara Brown, and Matt Saunders. Jorge Cousineau is the video designer.

According to the venue: "The Wilma Globe is an arena, surrounded by two levels of audiences-boxes, each separated from one another by wooden dividers, but open to the stage. Depending on the specific needs of the show, it can be reconfigured into a semi-circle, horseshoe, and more. This Globe can fit as little as 30 and up to 100 people, and will provide a higher level of safety and comfort to our audiences."

The theater has also said that it plans to video-stream shows live from its auditorium, using 12 installed cameras (some even positioned on actor costumes) to help those socially distanced. According to the Wilma, "we can open our productions to a much broader circle of potential audiences,",= though will depend on approval from actor unions.

They added: "There are hundreds of important details that we are still working on, which will help ensure audience and artists' comfort and safety, from mask protocols to bathrooms to concessions to entering and leaving the space. Of course, we will abide by all relevant government regulations.

"We will find thoughtful and innovative solutions to match our current planning. But we believe this "hybrid" version – a mix of in-person and streaming – will provide us with a much higher level of flexibility and preparedness for next season."

You can find out more about the Wilma's ideas here.