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Small town venues reopen with social distancing precautions in South Dakota

Published: Jul. 12, 2020 at 8:42 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -

Small Town theaters and country venues are opening up once again despite the pandemic, this time with more social distancing in mind.

The lights are illuminating the stage at the Mighty Corson Art Players stage once again after a break during the pandemic. Brian Schipper is the President.

"We auditioned and started rehearsing in February. So by the time COVID hit and everything had to shut down, and we had to take a break," says Schipper.

The decision to set a new performance date with social distancing and other precautions was agreed to by the board and those in the cast.

"So excited to be back. we're, we're ready. This is long overdue," says Schipper.

For those attending the performance of Ada and the engine starting July 17, they'll be opening earlier for staggered entry, intermission will be longer, touchpoints will be wiped down, and the sanitized seating will be spread out.

“Seats around them are going to be automatically blocked. So, it’s a way that we can enforce some social distancing in the house, it’ll still be an intimate space. Just a little more legroom,” says Schipper.

Actress Sara Harrington sees a tie between the 18th-century message in the script and today's challenges.

"No matter your circumstance, no matter what you're born into or the world around you you don't give up on what you believe in. And what you find you're passionate about," said Harrington.

The history of theater in this tiny community of less than 100, is written right here on the walls back in 1929 with the Corson Dramatic club. The actors then, the actors now are committed to continuing to perform, even safely during a pandemic.

Another country venue that has seen record-setting attendance at some of their events is Strawbale Winery near Renner. Don South is the owner.

"It's worked out really well so far people have thanked us for, you know, taking those steps and making it safe for folks," said South.

People can have as much distancing as they desire.

"We're outdoors we got plenty of room people can spread out and they can do you know pretty much whatever they want to do," said South.

Changes were made inside.

"We limit people in the tasting room to about 10 people. We do our wine tastings during our events, outdoors. We have our bathrooms in another building so people don't have to walk through the tasting room," said South.

Just south of Sioux Falls, the Worthing Dinner theatre has pushed back their springtime performance to next month, with their run starting August 8th. The actors, much closer on stage for this rehearsal wear masks.

Although each venue has taken social distancing measures, their re-opening brings back a sense of pre-pandemic fun, while creating a new normal in the present.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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