Fayetteville theater optimistic for 'new normal' after COVID-19 pandemic

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- There's an eerie silence inside the Gilbert Theater.

It's no act. The stage lights are off, audience seats are empty and 12 shows have been postponed until further notice. Those are signs of COVID-19's effect on the arts community.

"We basically had to shut everything down and went dark," said Lawrence Carlisle, artistic director of the Gilbert Theater. "Most or all of the other theatres in the area canceled their season and I didn't want to do that."

Opening night for cast and crew was just a week away when the pandemic hit. The theater runs on ticket sales and donations. Customers who already purchased tickets will be able to redeem them later.

Carlisle said if the new normal requires changing operations both on and off stage, he's prepared to do so starting with a safe and sanitary environment.

"Take out every other row of seats to space out the seating and then space those seats out as much as possible," Carlisle said.

The Gilbert Theater has been a part of the Fayetteville community for nearly 27 years. Staffers are already looking ahead to the governor lifting stay-at-home orders.

Until then, silence remains the main act here.

"I'm excited for whatever the new normal may be, but whatever it is I know we're going to get through it," said Carlisle. "The arts are extremely important especially in times where everyone is feeling anxious and uncertain."
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