Support for a Safe Re-Opening of Canadian Performing Arts Sector

Case study: In-house theatre production

This case study is for a theatrical production that is produced in-house. 

The case study outlines how performing arts venues can practice due diligence in each process of putting on a show, from contract negotiation to rehearsal to performance, and everything in between. 

Programming, contracting and show design 

Consider the following when selecting shows:

  • Size of cast
  • Understudy cast
  • Physicality of the piece (i.e. intimacy)
  • Number of characters (i.e. costume changes)
  • Duration/Intermission or number of acts
  • Potential staging limitations (i.e. multi-level, enclosed spaces, scene changes)
  • Budgetary aspects of design due to COVID-19
  • Need for body mics
  • Dressing room limitations

Contracting (director, designer, cast)
In addition to the above considerations, keep in mind:

  • Health & Safety policies
  • Visiting artists
    • Lodging close to venue/rehearsal
    • Keep out of town artists close together
  • Audition process
    • By camera
    • Final callbacks in person?
    • Audition to a selection of tracks rather than in person accompaniment

Design concept

  • Materials (i.e. easily sanitized)
  • Levels (i.e. if an actor is standing above another)
  • Costume/prop/set changes
  • Costume/prop/set sanitization
  • Turnaround time required between shows for proper sanitization
  • No sharing of costumes & props
  • If there are understudy casts, ensure separate costume, props
  • Discuss haze & other atmospheric products and give consideration to local regulations


  • Costumes:
    • Fittings/measurements – Need to be in a space large enough to accommodate social distancing where applicable, or use CCTV to relay images to required personnel
    • Wardrobe staff safety
  • Set /Properties/Paint
    • Consideration of scene change personnel
    • Tool sign out for daily use.
    • Commonly shared tools sanitized after each use.
    • Consider how your dust collection systems affect the airflow in the room
    • Authorized personnel only, and with proper PPE including N95 face mask & face shield
    • Consider easily sanitized materials
  • Production/design meetings via online platform where possible
  • All prop/set/wardrobe items must be sterilized before hand over to other departments


  • No shared coffee table/water coolers
  • No physical information boards (Call Board)
  • First day of rehearsal limited to essential personnel (First Read)
    • Consider doing the first week of rehearsal in camera
  • Digital presentations for design
  • Assigned seating
  • Rehearsal equipment becomes individualized
  • Individual storage container/area
  • Room marked for occupancy flow
  • Runs for design team may have to be on camera
  • Staggered break times
  • Cleaning schedule/Responsibility
  • Rehearsal props/costumes individualized for use, cleaning, and storage
  • Recommendation for COVID coaches in rehearsal (akin to an intimacy coach)

Set up

  • Dressing room allocation
    • Repurposing of auxiliary spaces for overflow.

Onstage rehearsals

  • Vocal & physical warm up
  • Recommendation for COVID coaches in rehearsal (akin to an intimacy coach)
  • Socially distanced notes sessions
  • All props/set/wardrobe items must be sterilized before being returned to use
  • Discussion of scene changes to ensure best practice Re-COVID Health & Safety
  • Ensure proper spacing from performance to the closest audience member
  • Review quick-change needs and space requirements (i.e. Quick change booths)

On-site processes leading up to performance

Cleaning in venue as per Health & Safety guidelines

  • Prior to usher arrival

Usher team arrives in house

  • Preshow orientation in designated area (not in the performance hall)

Show crew arrives

  • Disinfect all handled stage gear (If not already completed post Rehearsal)

Artist call time

  • Preshow health check of artist(s) & crew


  • FOH Staff prepare and don appropriate PPE

(Performance) Dressing Rooms

  • Proper allocation of spacing
  • Repurposing of auxiliary spaces for overflow.
  • Minimize contact of interdepartmental work (i.e. Laundry baskets for Wardrobe, Valuable collections from SM)
  • Preshow check of sanitization prior to use

Post-performance & tear-down

End of show

  • No meet & Greets or guests backstage (or before show)

Audience loads out

  • FOH Staff prepare and don appropriate PPE

Crew takes down show

  • Disinfect all handled stage gear
  • Rental equipment to be disinfected after packing up
  • Crew load trucks

Artist(s) prepare to leave

  • Ensure artist areas have been disinfected
  • Controlled access points

Crew Heads complete timesheets

  • Paperless submissions

Crew and artists leave building

  • Ensure artist areas have been disinfected

The technical director and artist management work in all spaces

  • Follow all Health & Safety measures, policies, and protocols.