The theater program at Missouri Southern State University has received ArtSafe certification through the Missouri Arts Council.

Created in conjunction with the Missouri Arts Safety Alliance, the certification is given to programs that demonstrate the ability to “create safely, present safely and attend safely.” Efforts must be taken to ensure there are facial coverings, social distancing, health check, contact tracing, contactless experience, reduced capacity, enhanced sanitation, and training in COVID-19 safe practices.

“It’s a way of guaranteeing the safety of our performers and the people who see our shows,” said Erick Wolfe, chair of the Theatre Department. “To be certified, we had to apply and submit documentation back in November, and all of our faculty members had to watch videos and take online tests to document what we’re doing.”

The remainder of the season’s offerings will include:

“Tartuffe” – March 11-14

“Southern Showcase, Onstage!” – April 8-10

“The Wind in the Willows” – April 29-May 2

Seating is limited for each production, and currently open only to members of the campus community. But as with last fall’s production of “Nevermore,” a streaming option will be available for the public to view the shows as well.

Aside from the changes being made to ensure the safety and well-being of performers and audiences, Wolfe says he believes COVID will have an impact that lasts well beyond the end of the pandemic.

“People will be hungry for them once they can go back to shows,” Wolfe said. “Look at Shakespeare in the Renaissance, after the plague shut everything down; or at the theater following the Spanish flu.

“There’s still going to be light, fun entertainment. But I think we’ll start seeing more socially conscious material, in terms of what is being produced and the subject matter we’re talking about.”