| Philosophische Fakultät, Studium

Theatre Erfurt in times of pandemic: Students from the University of Erfurt conducted a survey

Regular visitors to the Erfurt Theatre last year did not let the Covid 19 pandemic stop them from attending one or more of the Theatre Erfurt's hygienically designed events. This is the result of a telephone survey conducted by students of the University of Erfurt as part of the "Studium Fundamentale" seminar "Music Theatre Today" among 20 long-time visitors during the second "hard" lockdown.

On the contrary: according to their own statements, the respondents would have gone to the theatre even more often had it not been for the pandemic-related restrictions or the closure of the theatre. The survey under the motto "Theatre Erfurt in times of pandemic" was led by Prof. Dr. Patrick Rössler, communication scientist at the University of Erfurt), and music theatre dramaturge Larissa Wieczorek (Theatre Erfurt). The two emphasise that the survey is not a representative survey, but rather qualitative interviews, which were not least an exercise for the students.

The interviewees who attended the Corona-compliant events of the Erfurt Theatre in summer and autumn 2020 stated that they had felt safe and protected and were unanimous in their opinion that the theatre had more than adequately provided for the health of the audience - as well as the artists - with its hygiene concept. The respondents were also satisfied overall with the quality of the theatre's performances, which were adapted to the situation. However, in addition to the sparsely occupied auditorium, the "emptier stage" due to the spacing rules and the change in the way the audience dealt with each other were also noticeable. Artistically, a certain reduction and "minimalism" in the productions was also noted.

With the renewed lockdown, which has lasted since November 2020, visits to the theatre are no longer necessary, which the interviewees said they miss very much. To compensate for this, a large proportion of the interviewees said that they use cultural offerings mediated via media - i.e. recordings and livestreams of various opera houses and orchestras, CD recordings and DVD, but also the digital Advent calendar and the videos of the Erfurt Theatre published in the newsletter.

The interviewees made it clear, however, that for them all of these are only temporary alternatives that could in no way replace a real visit to the theatre and the experiences associated with it. After all, it was still above all the mood and atmosphere in the theatre as well as the interaction between audience and artists that made a visit to the theatre so fascinating.

A large proportion of respondents also felt that Theatre Erfurt should offer its audience even more alternative formats during the ongoing lockdown. In addition to the already available offers - such as the virtual walk through the theatre or concerts with smaller casts (1:1 concerts) - they would like to see recordings or livestreams of opera performances and concerts at the Erfurt Theatre. So-called "behind the scenes" formats, in which for example the staff are introduced, are also popular.

Although most respondents were concerned about the future of cultural offerings in general, they were more optimistic about the future of cultural offerings at the Erfurt Theatre. The main reason for this is probably the knowledge that it is securely financed by the city and state.

When asked about their wishes for the future of the theatre in Erfurt, the respondents hoped above all for an early reopening with unrestricted access to the venues. In addition, any cost-cutting measures due to the current situation should neither result in an increase in ticket prices nor a reduction in quality. Rather, the majority of respondents saw the current situation as an opportunity for new, creative or innovative forms of music theatre - and as a chance to make cultural offerings even more accessible to everyone in the future.

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