London's Donmar Warehouse temporarily reopens August 1–22 with a socially distanced sound installation, Blindness, based on the novel by Nobel-prize winning José Saramago.
Adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Walter Meierjohann, the hour-long ticketed piece runs four times a day, with seating arranged two meters apart.
Juliet Stevenson voices the Storyteller/Doctor’s wife. The production features an immersive sound design by Ben and Max Ringham, with attendees listening on headphones. The theatre has been re-imagined by designer Lizzie Clachan, with lighting by Jessica Hung Han Yun. Professor Hannah Thompson serves as the production consultant.
In Blindness, a European city turns to chaos after an epidemic causes citizens to suddenly and inexplicably go blind. In response, the government tries to quarantine the contagion by herding the newly blind people into an empty asylum.
All attendees are required to wear a face covering throughout their visit (medical exemptions permitted) as will all Donmar staff. The bar areas are closed, and there is a one-way system around the building. There are sanitizing points throughout the building, and the headphones, seats, restrooms, and public areas will be thoroughly cleaned between each installation.
"Reading Simon’s version of Saramago’s extraordinary allegory about a government’s and society’s response to a pandemic, I knew this was a story we had to tell immediately," Artistic Director Michael Longhurst says. "With indoor live performance not yet permitted, and social distancing measures reducing capacity, I am proud that the Donmar has risen to the challenge of producing work at this time. This immersive sound installation makes a virtue of these restrictions inspiring our artists to find the apposite form for this story."
(Updated August 1, 2020)