You would think there would be room for social distancing across a few dozen universes. In Nick Payne's “Constellations,” those universes pivot around two people who (in most of them) become very intimate.
As roommates, Rebecca Sands and Sean Lundberg share the same living space. That means on stage in Rochester Civic Theatre’s “Constellations,” they can also share an intimate space.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made theater companies rethink how they stage shows. Big musicals that would draw and delight large audiences aren’t an option under Minnesota Department of Health guidelines. A large audience is, for now, not allowed, either.
As directors look for potential shows, the main considerations are how many people are in the cast, do they get intimate, and are there a lot of shared props.
From those limitations can come more intimate shows that normally wouldn’t get produced on a larger stage.
“Constellations,” which opens Thursday, is a two-person show that had a short run at the Rochester Repertory Theatre’s classroom theater by In Heart Theatre in January 2018. In all, about 80 people attended that run.
As Civic Theatre leaders were looking for shows for the upcoming season, Kami Sim, who saw that production, suggested the show. Sim, coming off an excellent performance in "The Syringa Tree," is making her directorial debut for the Civic after directing productions at the Rep.
Sands and Lundberg, who starred in the production Sim saw, were willing to reprise their roles on a larger stage.
“These smaller, more intimate shows are really nice,” Sim said. “They’re not flashy, and they just feel real.”
Although the show has a small cast, a sparse, abstract set, and two characters getting close, it carries a large concept. It follows the two characters’ lives and different outcomes of small choices they make. It’s two people on one stage through dozens of universes of potential outcomes.
“We see all these outcomes of tiny, relatable moments,” Sim said. “We don’t even notice when we make some of these decisions that can affect these outcomes, and we, as an audience, get to see that.”
If you go
What: Rochester Civic Theatre’s "Constellations"
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, through Saturday, Oct. 10; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11; 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, through Saturday, Oct. 17
Where: Rochester Civic Theatre
Tickets: $30 for adults; $20 for seniors and students. Available online at www.onthestage.com/show/rochester-civic-theatre/constellations-84680.
More info: Masks are required on the premises at all times.