Pandemic-Safe Outdoor Theater Sparkles in ‘Solstice: Illuminate Your Wonder’
The live theater industry is frozen in suspended animation right now. But there’s one immersive theatrical outdoor experience in SF that adheres strictly to public health protocols, while razzle-dazzling your holiday season with surreal style. Solstice: Illuminate your Wonder (playing now through Dec. 12) at Balboa Terrace’s Gregangelo Museum brings live theater back to you and your small pod, plus you’ll get to experience a real snowfall and pet a live unicorn!
“Right now our arts and culture are not only endangered, they’re extinct,” Gregangelo Museum artistic director Gregangelo Herrera tells BrokeAssStuart.com. “Everybody’s decided to close. I don’t know how to stop, so I started saying ‘We gotta figure out a way to do this.”
They do this by setting the show outdoors, limiting the audience to small pods of six or fewer people, cycling pods through on performances that last 20-25 minutes, and cutting things off well before curfew. “The Gregangelo Museum was not so much a museum as it was a theatrical venue. We basically turned it inside out,” Herrera says. “We go by all of the protocols of masks and distance to [performing] outside.”
Masks are implemented into the costumes, and performers work the distancing of the audience into their characters repertoire. “We never want to break the magic that you’re in,” he tells us. “I want people to feel very comfortable.”
But it’s an outdoor show in December — what if it rains? “As artists from San Francisco, we’ve adapted to all kinds of things. We’ve risen during earthquakes and fires and floods,” Herrera says. “Just realize your potential cannot be stopped by anything. It’s about being in the present moment and alive and here now. If it rains tomorrow, we’ll figure it out tomorrow.”
Each show is performed specifically for you and your pod, but the thrill is more the special magic of seeing a live performance again. “We’re seeing grown men cry at this thing, we’re seeing people moved and changed and leaving dancing,” according to Herrera. “They call them immersive experiences. I never called it that. I call it ‘going to work.’”