(MADISON, WI) StageQ is sad to announce that after much deliberation with the director and production crew of the first post-shutdown production, Laced, will be postponed, partially due to the new county mask mandate that leaves no exemptions for performers on stage. StageQ hopes to reschedule the show for early next season in 2022. The show was originally slated to open September 24–only a week after the mandate is due to expire—but with the very real possibility of the mask mandate being extended, StageQ has decided to postpone now instead of waiting until the county decides what will happen next. “Laced” has already been postponed after originally being slated to run in October 2020.
StageQ is supportive of an indoor mask mandate, however they are frustrated at how hastily this mandate was put into place with no exemptions for arts organizations who have already put strict vaccine requirements in place for audiences and actors alike. “StageQ, like many arts organizations, wanted to be as responsible as possible for everyone’s safety. That is why we have already put strict rules in place like proof of vaccination for audience members and all our performers and crews. We already require masks for all audiences and members of the public. With no exemptions for performers on stage, this mandate is forcing an already stressed industry to face further devastation and shutdown, despite our best efforts to do the right thing” says Stowe. “Exemptions are being made to help keep businesses open across different industries such as restaurants or bars where no vaccine or testing requirements are in place. But the arts, which have been shutdown for over 15 months, are not allowed this same consideration by Dane county. Their inconsistency on this issue is starting to take its toll.”
“Unlike several area productions that are actively in discussions with the County Health Department, our production was just about to make casting decisions and begin rehearsals.” says board President and the show’s producer, Zak Stowe, “So we wanted to make a decision now instead of being forced to make the same decision later after putting a lot of time and effort into rehearsals which would be unfair to our actors and designers. We are a small, volunteer run organization—nationally recognized–but small nonetheless and we, unfortunately, do not possess the resources or connections to fight for exemptions to this mandate like some of the larger local arts organizations”
Like many organizations worried about how masks would affect an actor’s performance on stage, StageQ nor the director of “Laced”, Amy Rowland, feel this show can be performed masked. “This is a beautiful and intimate show about three friends who work at a queer bar. It celebrates the LGBTQ community and the spaces we come together in to be ourselves. There is so much nuance that would be lost behind a mask, not to mention diction and vocal clarity of the actor’s lines.” says Stowe. “We discussed alternatives like clear masks but kept coming back to the same conclusion that the script deserves better. We are not giving up on this show and when we are able to finally bring it to the stage, it will be done the way it should be, with passion, energy, and excitement.”
The mask mandate has also had the added effect of jeopardizing the availability of rehearsal space for StageQ and designers are weary of working on a show when there is so much uncertainty.
StageQ still plans to go ahead with the rest of their season, including a February production of “Hir” and April production of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” In the meantime, StageQ continues to look to the community for financial support during our continued shutdown. Those wishing to contribute can visit the StageQ website (www.stageq.org) and join our Friends of StageQ program that allows people to sign up at various giving levels and receive tokens of appreciation for their generous support.