So Would That Be A Plaque of Plays?

On occasion I have conversations with co-workers and colleagues about how Covid-19 may change the general aesthetics of live performance in the future.

For example: Will lingering concerns about physical contact result in staging and blocking which places people at even greater distances from each other on stage? Will dance choreography change based on the limited visual scope of web cameras? (e.g. movement doesn’t range too far to the left or right) or under the influence of TikTok choreography which is dominated by upper torso movement?

We figured many movie and play scripts and performances in general would contain themes of estrangement and isolation or space, manifested in emotional, mental, physical and spiritual terms.

What hasn’t been mentioned, though it has sort of lurked unspoken at the fringes, is the likelihood of some pretty didactic works about the experience of Covid-19.

Fortunately, the satire site The Beaverton, feels no compunction about addressing this topic in their “story” titled “Health Canada warns of inevitable “spring wave” of terrible COVID-inspired Fringe plays.” (Apologies to whomever tweeted the story. I hadn’t made note of your identity.)

Apparently there is the potential for a pandemic just as virulent as the Covid virus itself:

Case modelling indicates that various poorly-written scripts and “workshop drafts” are currently incubating all across the country. Health Canada warned of asymptomatic carriers who may seem healthy, despite currently using their Notes app to brainstorm ideas for a painfully unfunny sketch comedy revue with premises like “Speed Dating on Zoom” and “rap song about CERB?”.

“These terrible Fringe plays will no doubt ravage the bodies and minds of previously-healthy Canadians,” explained Dr. Tam gravely. “The kind of outbreaks we face might include: amateur actors who just can’t project loud enough while wearing PPE masks; some kind of weird clown thing where they dress up as the coronavirus and force audience members to join them onstage; or even pathetically-misguided attempts to thematically suggest that the real virus all along was ‘social media’.”

Submitted for your amusement (and potentially inspiration for your own Covid-themed show)

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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