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Richmond theatre moves beyond its walls

Gateway Theatre considers future outdoor events post-pandemic
Gateway Theatre's artistic director Barbara Tomasic is considering more outdoor theatre events for the future.

Change can be scary, but it’s necessary when something doesn’t work anymore, according to Gateway Theatre’s artistic director Barbara Tomasic.

She has always wanted to bring theatre events outdoors, but Gateway never got the chance because the theatre was “comfortable in their traditional space.”

That is, until the pandemic hit.

Gateway is challenging itself this summer by moving beyond its four walls and hosting its first outdoor concert series featuring local artists and performers.

Tomasic said the response to the concert announcement was “shocking and unbelievable” as tickets sold out in one weekend.

“It shows that people want to be near art and music and that’s really inspiring for us,” she said.

“I’m so excited to see everybody. I think our community of Richmond is ready and excited to be part of the arts again and to be together in some form.”

Tomasic told the Richmond News that a lot of artistic companies, including theatre companies, are often caught in a “container-like system.”

“It’s a system that people fall into and I think that even before I took on my role, Jovanni (the previous artistic director at Gateway) also began exploring ways to break Gateway out of its container,” said Tomasic.

She added that she personally has always wanted to explore the use of outdoor space for theatre and the pandemic, while it proved to be challenging, gave them an opportunity to get creative in their next steps to “reconnect the community.”

“There’s a desire for a lot of organizations to connect with new audiences … and if there’s a way to engage with people in a different way then that’s the plus.”

While Gateway has yet to announce any future plans for outdoor events and programs, Tomasic said they are likely to return with regular performances in December.

“We’re hopeful we can have people back into the theatre and celebrate the holiday season together.”