The Broadway production of The kite Runner announced a policy on Tuesday requiring masks for members of the public only on Friday night performances.
The new hybrid policy marks the first of its kind on Broadway, after theater owners removed the industry-wide mask mandate on July 1. Since then, masks have been optional in Broadway theaters and individual productions are also allowed to set their own policies for audience members.
The decision to The kite Runner, an adaptation of the 2003 novel that premiered on Broadway July 21, is intended to help immunocompromised customers, or those who otherwise feel uncomfortable sitting in a mask-optional audience, attend the show. The policy will begin implementation on August 19.
“There were a number of people, including friends, colleagues and even a doctor who expressed some concern about attending our show, or any show for that matter, without a masked audience,” said lead producer Victoria Lang.
“We thought, why not dedicate at least one performance a week to make it a masked audience so that anyone who wants to see the show has the opportunity to do so,” she said.
Friday night is typically one of the most popular nights on Broadway, with impressive crowds and more expensive tickets. While bringing a new play to Broadway (a typically risky venture that could be boosted by a policy like this), Lang said the producers chose Friday night because they felt it was the most accessible for client planning.
“You always hope to boost sales, but it’s not specifically done to drive sales,” she said. “It was really done to accommodate the requests of the people who were looking for a masked show.”
Since the industry-wide mandate was removed, two Broadway plays, the minutes and american buffalo, reinstated a mask mandate. Both limited editions, which were mandated for all performances, closed as scheduled in July.
To make the decision on her production, Lang said she consulted the show’s co-producers and then notified the Broadway League, the industry association of theater owners and operators, as well as the show’s cast and crew.
For Friday’s performances, the theater plans to put up signage at the box office, both inside and outside the theater, indicating that it will be a masked performance. The attendants at the theater will enforce the policy, Lang said.
The overall impact of the masks versus no masks on Broadway attendance remains unclear, as industry-wide numbers have been impacted by lower tourist numbers, as well as canceled performances and concerns about COVID-19.
However, Lang said she and the producers will be monitoring demand for and interest in the play’s Friday night showings and may add other performances as needed. The limited run is slated to run at the Helen Hayes Theater through October 30.
“If there are further requests for more performances, we certainly have the opportunity to do it,” Lang said.