The world dramas play on, but for the Santa Clara Players, the stage remains empty until next year.
Santa Clara Players Board of Directors President George Doeltz has notified theater subscribers that the planned 2021 – 2022 season debut this October was postponed until Feb. 2022.
SC Players had already cast the first play of the season and had a first read-through of the script. Then on Aug. 2, Santa Clara County COVID-19 restrictions again mandated wearing masks indoors in public places.
“We considered opening anyway with proof of vaccination and masks,” said Doeltz. “But our 71-seat theater is too small, and the air flow [despite air conditioning] is not sufficient to protect our audience and cast. So in the interest of safety, we are postponing our first show.”
Drinking Habits 2 was scheduled to open the season. It is a sequel to Drinking Habits, presented in Feb. 2019. It was the last show produced before COVID-19 brought down the curtains on stages worldwide.
The 2021 – 2022 SC Players (https://santaclaraplayers.org/) season has been cut to two productions. A Red Plaid Shirt will open the delayed season in February. Drinking Habits 2, with the same director and mostly the same actors from the original Drinking Habits, moves to next May.
In other setback to the performing arts, the City of Santa Clara has suspended Cultural Commission grants, leaving SC Players with a projected financial shortfall. Previously, the nonprofit community theater received $1,500 per play.
Show directors, casts and crews were once given small stipends. However, CA state legislature AB 5, passed in 2019, now requires that they be paid hourly salaries, subject to employer taxes and income tax withholding.
The theater facility, located behind the Triton Museum of Art, is sublet rent free. Low fixed expenses (insurance, internet and phone) and volunteer help combine with frugal financial management to keep SC Players, with an annual budget of about $30,000, in the black.
“Even without the City funding, we are okay for this year since I already paid for scripts and royalties for the upcoming shows,” said Doeltz. “What happens next year, I will have to wait and see. So if you notice that the ticket prices have gone up a little, that’s why.”
Season subscriptions are not being offered, and the modestly-priced tickets will be only an additional $2.
“In spite of all this we will drive on and give you, if not a season, at least two very fine and funny productions,” said Doeltz. “We hope to see you back here with us next February. And we greatly appreciate your putting up with our shenanigans all these years.”
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, performing in a large venue, has elected to open as scheduled Oct. 6 with Lizard Boy: A New Musical. It offers patrons a choice of viewing the initial two 2021-2022 season shows online or in person, with proof of vaccination and wearing masks at all times.
Sunnyvale Community Players, with the same safety protocols, opens Sept. 11 with West Side Story.