What’s The Future Of Sf’s Indie Performance Spaces?


The week of Sept. 14 marked an unlikely milestone for San Francisco: It was the week many of the city’s businesses reopened to the public (after several starts and stops during the summer) and it marked six months to the day since Mayor London Breed first ordered the city be locked down.

That order — given to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — was expected to last no more than a few weeks; maybe a month, at most.

The week of the 14th was also when worldwide coronavirus cases topped 30 million. Despite the city’s impressive efforts, the virus is still here.

For local artists like playwright Marissa Skudlarek — whose adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano” was scheduled to open at Cutting Ball Theater in April — the lockdown put the brakes on projects already in motion.

“We started rehearsing ‘Cyrano’ in early March,” she said, “so we got about a week of rehearsals in before we had to shut down due to the pandemic.” She says she was “thrilled and invigorated” to finally see the play on its feet, but couldn’t shake the doubt that came with reading breaking headlines.

At that point, the lockdown itself came as something of a relief.

“In those horrible early days of the pandemic, it caused me great mental strain to have to publicly promote ‘Cyrano’ while privately suspecting that it wouldn’t make it to opening night.”

She wasn’t the only one.

The pandemic has damaged the live performance industry worse than most others, save for education. While restaurants, gyms, and salons have also felt the sting, they’ve been able to adapt by moving into delivery, outdoor, and private online appointments.

Performing arts don’t really have that luxury. Their entire infrastructure — both artistically and economically — is based around the idea of