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Theater's line 45th in the street of New York. As Broadway reopens this fall, proof of full vaccinations are required for entry and masks are mandated while moving through the theater.

There's a woman who has seen the play "Pass Over" multiple times in just a few days. She sat with the audience one night, returned another day to stand at the back of the theater and once stayed backstage for an entire performance.

She's not exactly a super fan. Don't get her wrong, Dr. Blythe Adamson loves the play. But she was searching for something more than a jolt of live theater — ways to lower the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

Adamson is tasked with making the August Wilson Theatre safer on both sides of the stage. She has climbed onto the roof to inspect the new HVAC ventilation system that brings in fresh air and put portable air filters around the building. She has talked to stage managers to understand the movement of people backstage and hung out in the lobby during shows to look for chokepoints. She once spent a performance loitering at the bathrooms to see how patrons could spread the virus.

"Bringing together more than a thousand people into one room during a pandemic, as an epidemiologist, is something that I would not endorse if I didn't really believe that it can be done safely," said Adamson, founder of Infectious Economics, which has helped develop protocols for the NBA, the fashion industry and retail stores.

Adamson is part of a new group crucial to Broadway's reopening this season: Professionals grounded in science tasked with ensuring a COVID-19 free zone.

"It's all about reducing risk," said Mimi Intagliata, director of production at Disney Theatrical Group who is in charge of its virus response. "We on Broadway aren't going to get rid of COVID any more than anybody else. But it's about reducing our risk so that we keep our folks as safe as we can and keep the show going."

Air is now constantly circulating inside the August Wilson Theatre, thanks to the placement of portable air fans and air filters with MERV-13 or HEPA technology. Adamson cut the number of people who can go backstage and recommended PCR testing for COVID-19 for everyone, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. All workers now wear KN95 masks.

Adamson endorses a policy of layered solutions — multiple, overlapping efforts that currently is grounded on rigorous personal testing and air filters everywhere. It means listening to the latest science and changing protocols if necessary. It means bracing for the inevitable positive test result.

Broadway posters appear outside Richard Rogers theater during covid-19 lockdown in New York Image source: voavoa

The Disney Theatrical Group has settled on five pillars to keep people safe: mandating vaccinations, frequent testing, plenty of PPE, regular hand hygiene and surface cleaning and upgrading HVAC systems.

Company members are PCR tested every day and there is additional antigen testing planned — far exceeding the union protocols. Because Disney has children in their companies, they are sticking with masking mandates backstage.

Examining every aspect of their productions has led to everything from touchless bathroom facilities to scrapping the tradition of actors signing autographs after shows. Managers even realized that two actors in one show who had no stage time together were sharing a dressing room, unnecessarily risking a bigger disruption if one fell ill.

"Those are the types of things you have to look at and shake up status quo to say 'The things that we do out of hand without even thoroughly thinking about, we have to back up and reevaluate,'" said Intagliata.

"Pass Over" — the first play to open on Broadway since the pandemic shut down in March 2020 — was almost perfectly designed to show a path past COVID-19: It has just three actors, lasts just 90 minutes with no intermission and no musicians.

"This is the right show to be the first," said Adamson. "If we can't make it work with this one, then we don't understand what works. With musicals, it will be harder. But we have the tools."

Adamson suspects bigger shows will have to do PCR testing for all staff four to six days a week. To keep costs low, she suggests they pool their tests. "Pass Over" combines up to 24 saliva samples for one PCR test and separates them so ushers and ticket-takers are in a different sample bag than actors.

As for audiences, anyone wanting to see "Pass Over" and Bruce Springsteen's musical — the only Broadway shows on offer for a few more weeks — both signal what could be the new normal: Proof of full vaccination are required for entry and masks are mandated while moving through the theater.

To infiltrate the August Wilson Theatre, the virus will have to grapple with Pam Remler, a former stage manager who is now a COVID-19 safety manager. Having been the stage manager there during the long run of "Jersey Boys," she knows the theater's nooks and crannies well.

Remler collects saliva samples from actors and workers each day, schedules tests and does contact tracing. She inspects the theater's various filters and enforces the mask mandates and social distancing requirements.

"This is absolutely doable. We can have an industry. We can do it right. It takes all of us to do this, but it is absolutely doable," said Remler. (VOA/RN)

Keywords: Broadway, Theaters, Vaccinations


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Books that you can read in 2022.

Reading allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the world around you, stimulating your creativity and keeping your mind engaged.

A list of new releases published by Aleph:

What the Heck Do I Do With My Life?: How to Flourish in Our Turbulent Times

Many causes, including technology, climate change, demographics, and inequality, will cause our planet to change more in this century than in all of human history. Extreme change is offering unparalleled opportunities for individuals, companies, and society, as well as a 'adaptive challenge.' Those who can adapt to a fast-paced, complex, dynamic, and unpredictably changing world will prosper. Those who are unable to do so will suffer immensely.

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There are obvious signals that we need new ways of thinking about the world and our place in it all over the place. Our old ways of thinking about education, lifestyle, success, and happiness are no longer valid. What are the changes in the workplace? When future jobs are still being invented, how can you know what talents will be useful? Will 'jobs' even exist in the future, or will we be relegated to a world of projects and freelance work? What do you do with all of this and more?

What the Heck Do I Do With My Life? is a book on figuring out what you want to do with your life. Ravi Venkatesan argues that effective adaptation in the twenty-first century necessitates a "paradigm shift," a new attitude, new talents, and new techniques. Ravi also considers how, rather than drifting along like a piece of driftwood, we will need to live life more consciously, making deliberate decisions about who we are, what we do, and how we live.

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Neeraj Chopra: From Panipat to The Podium

On the night of August 7, 2021, a billion Indians' long-held desire came true as Neeraj Chopra won gold in the javelin in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The wait, on the other hand, had been extremely long. In reality, this is India's first individual gold medal in athletics since the modern Olympic Games began. The entire country showered him with affection when he did it in his signature flair and smile. The media went crazy, and the youth discovered a new source of inspiration. People flocked to get their photos taken with him, and businesses discovered a new wonder-ambassador. Neeraj Chopra: I'm Neeraj Chopra, and I'm From Panipat to the Podium begins in a small village in Panipat and tells the story of his formative years, which were marked by restricted resources and opportunities. It takes readers through his journey to Panchkula and then to the national camp in his quest to conquer the world.

My Cricket Hero: XII Indians on their XII favourite Cricketers

Pieces from Keki Daruwalla on Polly Umrigar, Fredun De Vitre on Chandu Borde, Gulu Ezekiel on Eknath Solkar, Hemant Kenkre on Sunil Gavaskar, Amrit Mathur on Salim Durani, Kersi Meher-Homji on Vijay Hazare and many more make for a great lockdown read.

It's A Wonderful World: A Memoir

His book is a provocative read that makes us wish we had a life like his. Khalid Ansari's life has been an exciting and purposeful journey in service to his fellow human beings, beginning with his birth in Mumbai's impoverished Madanpura to a father who began his life as an orphan and a mother from a poor household. Ansari has attempted to depict some highlights of a splendored life that he has been lucky to experience, catching stars while chasing rainbows in this 'donkey's tale'. It's been la vie en rose for him, from founding newspapers and magazines to representing his country at the United Nations, accompanying dignitaries on state visits, covering cricket Test matches, nine Olympics, Commonwealth and Asian Games, travelling the world, and being awarded the Padma Shri award. The author has worked hard to keep this narrative from devolving into a 'I-did-this-did-that' pat-on-the-back, shabash!' By 'spicing' it up with dollops of frothy stories and self-critical bon mots, he has attempted a discourse on the meaning of life, the 'right path,' and the like, even as he has attempted a discourse on the purpose of life, the 'right route,' and the like.

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