Under the Radar theater festival canceled as Omicron explodes


As a wave of coronavirus cases brought on by the Omicron variant increasingly weighs on live performances, the Public Theater announced on Friday that it would cancel its Under the Radar festival, which was originally scheduled to start on January 12.

In a statement, the theater cited “multiple disruptions related to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the community,” including effects on staff availability, cancellations by performers and members of the public, interruptions of flight and visa processing delays.

Mark Russell, the festival director, said in a video interview that his team had been working on plans to streamline Under the Radar – the public’s annual showcase for experimental work, and one of the many New York festivals that take place. are formed around the Association of Performing Arts Professionals. conference – so that it can continue despite the wave. But Thursday morning, Russell said, he took stock of the test positivity rate and the number of cases in New York City, and decided it would be irresponsible to continue.

“Now was not the time for a festival,” he said. “A festival is a celebration. It’s supposed to be a gathering to celebrate this work, and it wasn’t going to be a celebration.

While last year’s Under the Radar was completely virtual, it took months of planning, Russell said, so it wouldn’t have served this iteration in an attempt to go hybrid or digital so late. Oskar Eustis, artistic director of Audience, said in the interview that all artists and festival staff will be paid as scheduled.

The lineup for Under the Radar was to include “Seven Methods to Kill Kylie Jenner,” by Jasmine Lee-Jones; “Our Country”, by Annie Saunders and Becca Wolff; “An Evening with an Immigrant”, by Inua Ellams; “Otto Frank” by Roger Guenveur Smith; and “Mud / Drowning”, with texts by María Irene Fornés.

As part of Under the Radar’s On the Road initiative, “The Art of Theater” and “With My Own Hands”, two monologues by Pascal Rambert, will continue to be presented by Performance Spaces for the 21st Century in Chatham, NY “An Evening With an Immigrant” is still scheduled to be performed at the Oklahoma City Repertory Theater (January 22-23) and Stanford University (January 29-30), and “Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner” is still scheduled to air. three weeks at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in Washington (February 14-March 6).

In December, the public announced that it would require a full vaccination and, until the end of January, proof of a negative Covid-19 test to access its theaters and restaurants. With no mainstage performances during this time, the policy was primarily aimed at Under the Radar, which was due to end on January 30.

Another experimental performance presentation, the month-long Exponential Festival, will be featured online, on the festival’s YouTube channel and on Twitch.

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