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Jeannie Wood: Thank you, community, for great showing

The Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra’s production of “The Joy Luck Club” concluded on May 14 at the Nevada Theatre after a two-year postponement due to COVID-19.

Over 2,000 patrons came to see the show! The community and region were ready to return to live theatre! We want to take this opportunity to thank our patrons, especially, for adhering to our strict COVID-19 protocols.

When we begun to sell tickets in the beginning of February, the Omicron variant was still surging. CATS made a decision at that time to be extremely vigilant on adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols to protect the cast, crew, volunteers, and our patrons. We required proof of vaccination and IDs at the door, and wearing a mask the entire time while inside the theater.

We did not make this decision lightly. We had a big cast and crew and directors to protect — our cast had no understudies — and our directors had no replacements. I myself just learned and launched a new ticketing software, let alone teach someone. Each of us was irreplaceable if anyone got sick.

We didn’t want to compromise the show in any way. We kept our fingers crossed, and we all remained well. While COVID-19 trends were doing better by the time we opened the show on April 21, we didn’t feel it was fair to change our policies midstream, as we had at that time sold over 1,000 tickets to patrons who supported our policies and were choosing to come to the show based on our protocols.

Our special guest on May 1, author Amy Tan, would not have come had we not had these strict protocols in place. Our shows were under the definition of a “large gathering” with no social distancing and sitting elbow-to-elbow for the most part. Because of these reasons, we had to create an environment that would best support the outcome of the show.

In an effort to accommodate the wider theater community, CATS offered a streaming option to those who were unvaccinated and/or still uncomfortable attending live theater. This was our first attempt at streaming, and it was well received.

While many patrons were pleased with our “sticking to our guns,” regarding our COVID-19 protocols, we recognize that not everyone was happy. Under the circumstances, we made decisions that we felt would best serve the community at large.

Jeannie Wood is the executive director of Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS).

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