The decrease in indicators in Mexico City and the metropolitan area on new hospital occupancy records (53.2%) and the reduction in suspected cases of Covid-19 reported until last Friday, allowed the city’s health authorities to announce that as of this Monday they will be able to reactivate some activities that had been closed since last December, including film screenings, indoor theater performances and museums.
However, the capacity in all cases must be even lower than the maximum allowed at the end of last year (30%). Both cinematic and scenic complexes may only reopen with a maximum capacity of 20% indoors and must offer the last show at 8:00 p.m., while museums must operate until 7:00 p.m. In all cases, the permanent use of face masks will be mandatory.
The urgency to reopen was not foolish, the theater and film unions have repeatedly expressed through different channels, but rather in view of the precariousness and risk of permanent unemployment of the workers and families that depend on both industries.
Open to 20% is a throw to the precipice
The maximum capacity of 20% allowed was not entirely well received by the theaters. After the capital authorities announced the reactivation of theaters, producer Morris Gilbert, responsible for staging such as Wicked, The Lion King and Les Miserables, said that “20% of the capacity is not profitable. When the situation allows it and they authorize us more capacity, then we will return ”, he said, although later he acknowledged:“ we are going to reopen as soon as possible for the main reason of all: the sacred sources of work for our union ”.
On February 15, several of the main theater producers in Mexico, such as Gerardo Quiroz, Alejandro Gou, Juan Torres and Claudio Carrera launched the #NecesimosLosTeatrosAbificios campaign to denounce that, 11 months after having closed for the first time, “the theaters are edge of the abyss ”and to explain that this art does not belong to the category of massive events, so it is not an activity with a high risk of contagion and that even a 30% capacity, as was done last year, with the expenses that implies a montage, is a throw to the precipice.
“The objective is not to open the theaters but to save the theater from this catastrophe. We are not the producers who do theater nor are the actors who lead a cast. The machinery is huge and many people in this chain have been forgotten, in the eyes at least of the authorities, they are people who have lived one hundred percent of the theater, “said Juan Torres, producer of works such as Godspel and La caula de las crazy.
He pointed out that being an industry that requires promotion and several anticipated processes, at least 90% of theater producers could not start the next day of receiving the green light.
Reactivating the theater is more complex
“Opening the theaters of this city is not lifting the curtain of a changarro and giving a little sweep to the earth that has accumulated. You have to advertise, you have to rehearse and see with whom of our teams we are going to ride, what we are going to do. Simply requesting a permit at any city hall takes you 15 business days, ”he added.
For its part, last week, through a letter the National Association of Independent Theaters (ANTI) expressed its concern about the situation in the industry. If theater art is not reactivated shortly, “it will ruin the economy of our theaters and their staff: artists, technicians, cleaning and administrative personnel, cultural managers, and so on. We are part of the living artistic heritage of our country and if this situation persists, given today’s economic difficulties, the risk of definitive closure and the cancellation of an inalienable cultural right will grow enormously ”.