The Road Back: Q&A Part II

Posted March 10, 2021

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This week's 'The Road Back' recaps some of our plans, and answers your most pressing questions about how we hope things are going to play out this summer.

Q&A, Part II

APT is your theater. So we asked you what you think about the plan to return to in-person plays, and to share any questions you might have about the process. And you did not disappoint!

When will you announce the season?
We hope to announce the season very soon – before the end of March, as a matter of fact. As we have discussed in Chapter 2 of The Road Back, we’ll need the labor unions we work with, especially Actors’ Equity Association, to sign off on our safety plan before the actors and artists are set to arrive. We’ll announce the season as soon as we have some indication from the unions that our safety plan is feasible and passes muster.

Will any of the 2020 plays be staged in 2021?
We originally hoped to move the full 2020 season to 2021, but it became increasingly apparent that that would not be possible for myriad reasons (more on that here). But, don't be surprised if one or two of the 2020 plays make their way to an APT stage this season.

When will tickets go on sale?
Tickets will go on sale when we get final approval on our safety plan, which we expect will be sometime in April.

Have you set the ticket prices for this year?
Ticket prices for this year will be the same as they were in 2020. Also note that this year, because tickets won’t go on sale for the full season at one time, our 25% and Four Pack “preseason” discounts will be available through October, as long as there are seats available. On the flip side, because of the abnormal schedule and temporary pause on our usual rotating repertory model, we’re unable to offer 40% off autumn shows on the Hill when you purchase summer tickets. We’re still working on pricing for the digital performances and will publish the prices when we announce the season. Read more about ticketing plans here.

Will you require proof of testing or proof of vaccination to attend APT?
Not for our audience members. Instead, we will depend on masking, social distancing and asking people who feel ill – even just a little bit – to stay home. We encourage folks who feel they would like further measures in place to choose the digital version of plays.

Will there be performances specifically for people who are vaccinated?
We do not plan to require people to be vaccinated before they come to APT, nor do we plan to have special performances for vaccinated folks where we have a higher capacity of seats filled. Iowa County Health Department officials, with whom we have been consulting, emphasized that capacity limits will continue to be set according to case rates, not vaccination rates. We hope that as vaccination rates rise, case rates will fall and that may lead to us being able to eventually have larger audiences.

Who gets to buy tickets first?
First, let’s acknowledge that, because we are anticipating more demand for tickets than we have supply, this is something of a tough subject. It’s been a year of incredible support from our audience. It has also a year of difficult decisions, with more to come. We are currently working on a plan that establishes a number of priority ordering groups. In addition to recognizing our donors, we want to prioritize ticket buyers who stuck by us last year when we had to cancel the season. Also, we know that some regular buyers held off on their 2020 purchase in light of the gathering storm of the pandemic. These groups will be able to buy tickets before the general public. That said, due to the capacity caps on the theaters, and despite the hours of painstaking planning and infinite good intentions, we fear some people will be disappointed. We ask for your patience and good will as we navigate this tricky situation. We will make the criteria public and notify patrons of their group before tickets go on sale.

If my friend buys tickets for me, will I get to order?
Accounts will be tagged according to order group, so if your friend purchased tickets for you in the past, you should plan on them continuing to do so this year.

If we attend with people outside our household, can we buy tickets which allow us to be socially distanced from them?
Yes, you can do this by purchasing two sets of tickets for the same performance, and APT's ticketing software will automatically distance those two sets of seats. We’ll give you detailed instructions on how to do this as we get closer to when tickets go on sale.

What do I do if I have credit on my account from last year or if I purchased Play Passes?
Account credits and from last year and Play Passes may be used to purchase tickets for this season – either for in-person or virtual performances. We’ll offer detailed instructions of the steps to follow as we get closer to when tickets go on sale. If you aren’t ready to come back to APT, or are otherwise unable to use Play Passes or account credits this year, you can use them for “APT at Home” digital plays, or keep them on your account for use in 2022. For more on how to use your 2020 tickets, visit our FAQ page.

Will people be masked?
Yes! All patrons and staff, with the exception of actors on stage, are required to wear masks on APT property. If you are actively eating or drinking, such as during your picnic or enjoying concessions in the lobby, you may remove it. But you will need to put it back on when you’re finished. Your mask must cover your nose and mouth. The mask requirement is in place to comply with current CDC recommendations, and the actors' union currently requires all audience members to be masked for the safety of the performers. The actors will not be able to perform unless everyone is masked.

Who will police the mask requirements?
Members of our house staff will be prepared to enforce the mask requirement, and patrons who refuse will be asked to leave. Patrons who are unable or unwilling to wear masks should consider the digital performances.

Will you sell all your seats and how will you handle social distancing?
We will begin the season at 25% capacity or less, allowing for at least 6 feet between parties. If the CDC, local health authorities, and the labor unions with which we work allow, we may be able to make more seats available as the season goes on.

Our ticketing system has a tool that will help us ensure that parties are 6 feet apart. We’ll also be arranging picnic tables, concessions lines and other APT features to allow for distancing. Read more about safety precautions on the APT grounds here.

Will there still be post-show discussions?
The actors’ union does not allow for any in-person contact with audience members outside of performances this year. So we’ll be moving these discussions to Zoom. While you won’t be able to ask your questions immediately after seeing the play, you can attend these events either live or tune into the recording. We’ll have more information on this before tickets go on sale.

Our Beyond the Plays events – Play Talks and the Backstage Series – will also be held virtually this year. (Bonus: They’re free of charge!)

Will assistive listening devices be available this year?
You bet! Also, since last we were together we have added an induction loop system to the Touchstone Theatre, similar to the one that we debuted in the Hill Theatre in 2017. This system allows users with hearing aids equipped with a t-coil to directly connect to our listening system for a better listening experience. Patrons without a t-coil device can use a portable receiver and headset to connect to this system. The portable receivers are sanitized between each use.

Will you hold matinees this season? What about weekday student matinees?
We will definitely have weekend matinee performances this season as usual.

As for weekday student matinees, we aren’t quite sure yet. It remains to be seen if school groups will be in a position take field trips in September and October, and the nature of our schedule this year (one play at a time rather than all in rotating repertory) isn’t as conducive to a student matinee schedule. We hope to have at least one, possibly more. Stay tuned for more information on this one.

What is the exchange or refund policy for patrons who can’t attend due to illness?
We do not want people who feel ill – even just a little bit – to come to APT. In these instances, patrons may contact the box office up until one hour before the performance to arrange an exchange, account credit, refund or a ticket to the digital version of the play. We will be very flexible about this so we can keep everyone who does come to APT safe and healthy!

Will the bus from Madison be running?
Unfortunately, not this year. With greatly reduced capacity in the theater and the reduced capacity that would be necessary on the coach, it isn’t financially feasible for us to offer bus service this season. We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes; we plan to once again partner with Badger Bus to offer service in 2022.

I’m worried about the ventilation in the Touchstone Theatre. What can you tell me about it?
HVAC upgrades are currently underway in several of our indoor spaces at APT, including the Touchstone Theatre. Read all about it in Chapter 4 of The Road Back.

Will you publish a schedule of all the plays at once or just one at a time?
We’ve heard from a number of you who want to make your plans in advance, even though tickets won’t go on sale for all the shows at once. We will release a schedule for the full summer season very soon, so you can plan your annual outings through the summer.

Next week on The Road Back: An update on where things stand right now.