Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Extra! Performance groups in region pass harsh milestones

Critic At Large

Theatrical masks a symbol of endurance

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The performance scene in our region has passed milestones we never imagined would happen.

What has mounted is a kind of death toll.

As group upon group struggles to survive, I thought of a symbol of endurance – the famous theatrical masks that have been present through the ages.

Many theaters throughout Northeastern Wisconsin associate the combined comedy and drama masks on their building, in their building, in their printed programs or as part of their logo.

The images are variations of those from ancient Greece.

I think of the masks that many groups are drawn to in this awfully, awfully hard time for them because of the stifling COVID-19 pandemic.

By my totally unofficial count I have kept from week to week, more than 1,500 productions have been canceled or postponed in Northeastern Wisconsin since March 12, 2020.

More stunning, the swath of COVID-19 has wiped out at least 5,000 performances in the region.

This does not count not club, casino or other engagements.

Think of how many people would have attended those 5,000 performances.

If the average attendance is, say, 100 people, that amounts to 500,000 admissions.

And lost ticket sales is in the many millions of dollars.

The disappointment of oh so many people by missing shows is immeasurable.

How do you measure lost enjoyment?

Though the situation has eased, COVID-19 continues to cause cancellations and postponements.

And in many cases, COVID-19 protocols affect how theaters admit patrons and seat them.

As I travel the area, I get a kick out of bumping into the comedy/drama theatrical masks over and over again.

There is a core value in them for countless people.

Those masks have been present through the best of times and the worst of times.

How our performance groups have responded to the great duress can be found in my columns.

Many display the masks as part of their meaning.

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