Sarasota theater prepares to welcome back audiences 1 year after going dark

One year ago, theaters throughout Sarasota and around the world went dark. 

"When it got taken away there was a deafening silence, not just of the theaters themselves but for all the surrounding businesses," said Rebecca Hopkins, managing director of Florida Studio Theater.

The theatre doors will reopen at the end of the month.

"The theater, the arts as a whole, this is a cultural community. It drives a lot of our economy. It’s the reason why a lot of people move here. There’s a lot of employment here but it’s what makes the town so special," said Hopkins. 

Guests will notice changes from the moment they arrive. Temperatures will be checked, social distancing observed and masks required. The theater will reopen with about a 30% capacity. Seats have been blocked off to maintain social distancing. Special filters have also been installed on all a/c units. 

"It is so exciting to finally reopen it’s also nerve-wracking because we want to do it well," said Hopkins. 

They're not alone. Major arts organizations within Sarasota have been communicating and working with one another since last March, coming up with safe ways to reopen and invite guests back.

"We know a lot more than we did a year ago when we had to shut down. Masks work, washing your hand's works, social distancing works so it was how are we going to put all that in place," she said. 

To be able to welcome an audience back is the curtain call performers have been waiting for. 

"The loss of the audience, the loss of the interaction of the audience has been so painful. You feel like you’re losing your meaning. So we are all excited to start bringing that relationship back together," said Hopkins. 

 Visit the Florida Studio Theater website to learn more and see upcoming performances.


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