Image via Baltimore Center Stage’s Facebook page.
Image via Baltimore Center Stage’s Facebook page.

Baltimore Center Stage has temporarily suspended two of its productions after multiple members of the productions tested positive for COVID-19, said Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships Robyn Murphy.

The theater had been working on productions of “A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction” and “The Swindlers: A True-ish Tall Tale,” which were slated to be filmed and presented online starting on April 15 and April 29, respectively. The shows would be the second and third installments in a four-show Mainstage Series.

But Baltimore Center Stage on Wednesday announced a “Covid-related pause” in the productions “out of an abundance of care and caution.”

Across the two productions’ bubbles, the theater recently confirmed more than one positive case, Murphy told Baltimore Fishbowl. She did not specify the number of cases.

The suspension decision was made in consultation with the theater’s COVID Response Team, medical professionals, artists’ unions, artists and staff, Baltimore Center Stage officials said in a statement.

Murphy said the theater does not yet know when those productions will resume, and that they are “playing it by ear.”

“We just cannot go forward with the work we want to do if we’re not prioritizing health and safety,” she said.

In a statement, Baltimore Center Stage officials noted how they, like other arts organizations and businesses, have had to adapt their schedules and operations during the coronavirus pandemic.

“For over twelve months now, we have responded to ever-changing variables in our work, remaining nimble and prioritizing the safety of our audiences, artists and staff,” they said.

Since Baltimore Center Stage first announced its theatrical lineup for the 2020-2021 season in June 2020 and outlined COVID-19 precautions for limited in-person audiences in July 2020, the theater has had to switch gears to present productions online.

The theater’s announcement on Wednesday comes as Maryland continues to see coronavirus metrics rise, including the state’s average COVID-19 positivity rate, daily number of new cases, and hospitalizations.

Murphy said Baltimore Center Stage officials “have not made a decision yet” about how to present those productions if and when they are able to do so. She added that decisions will be made for each production individually.

As for the 36th Annual Young Playwrights Festival, which is scheduled to be streamed virtually on May 7, and other Baltimore Center Stage events, Murphy said she does not believe any of the theater’s offerings outside of the Mainstage Series have been affected.

Baltimore Center Stage kicked off its Mainstage Series with “The Glorious World of Crowns, Kinks and Curls,” written by Keli Goff and directed by Bianca LaVerne Jones. The play is streaming now through April 18.

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction,” written by Miranda Rose Hall and directed by Taibi Magar, follows the Zero Omissions Theater Company as they try to wake up the audience of their own play to the threat of climate change.

The National Endowment of the Arts in February awarded $35,000 to Baltimore Center Stage to support the theater’s production of the climate-change play.

“The Swindlers: A True-ish Tall Tale,” written by Noah Diaz and directed by Will Davis, tells the story of a woman tracking down her con man father and blackmailing him into returning stolen funds before her home is foreclosed.

“We will resume our work when the timing feels right, and will share our plans in the coming days,” Baltimore Center Stage officials said in a statement. “We are looking forward to sharing more storytelling with you in the very near future.”

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...