Two Bay Area theaters announced surge-related postponements today, joining a parade of events and performers that are moving dates further into the future due to the ongoing pandemic.
Acclaimed performer, playwright and MacArthur Fellow Taylor Mac, who dazzled local audiences with his 24-Decade History of Popular Music four years ago, was set to return to the Magic Theatre this fall with the world premiere of a new play about the 1918 influenza pandemic. Titled Joy and Pandemic, the play spans generations and, according to the theater's copy, "explores the complex and ever-evolving relationships between science and faith, art and tradition, and mothers and daughters with infinite charm, wit, and humor."
The Magic's website still has the play's dates listed as "anticipated fall 2021," but the New York Times reported Wednesday that a September opening has now been postponed indefinitely.
"Timing is everything," Mac says in a statement. "With the rise of infections, this is not the time to engage wholeheartedly with the themes in this work. Our hope is that time will come soon."
Joy and Pandemic reportedly grew out of research that Mac did into the 1910s for the 24-Decade History, and the choice to premiere it at the Magic comes from a long relationship with the theater. Mac previously brought his epic The Lily's Revenge to the Magic a decade ago, and later his play Hir, in 2014.
Like Hir, the new play is one in which Mac does not himself appear.
In a previous interview when Joy and Pandemic was first announced, Mac explained that it is set in Philadelphia in 1918, centered around the famed Liberty Loan Parade that became a superspreader event. Christian Science figures into it as well, and it flashes forward to 1951.
"It’s so much about what our beliefs are, what somebody else’s reality is, and how those two things match up," Mac said.
The Magic promises that the play will still premiere there, sometime in the coming months when it is appropriate.
Berkeley Repertory Theater also made an announcement Wednesday that it is delaying its reopening by six weeks, from October 1 to November 12. The play originally set to open the 2021/2022 season, playwright Christina Anderson's the ripple, the wave that carried me home, will now close the season and open in September 2022.
The theater now plans to reopen for in-person shows with Charles L. Mee's Wintertime, directed by longtime collaborator Les Waters, on November 12, 2021.
Berkeley Rep says it is a fully vaccinated organization, including all actors, crew, and staff, and it requiring proof of vaccination from all attendees come November, as well as masks on inside at all times. Also, the theater is still going to allow subscribers to view shows streamed at home if they are more comfortable doing so.
Meanwhile, other theaters have reopened in San Francisco, including the small SF Playhouse near Union Square, and Broadway SF's Orpheum Theater, where performances of Hamilton began again on Tuesday night.
Top image: Taylor Mac in 2019. Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage