Socially distanced use of theatre space at the International School of Brussels

15 September 2020

Recently ISTA member Edward Grody, Theatre Manager and Technical Director at the International School of Brussels, shared with us their school’s strategies for creating a socially distanced theatre space that can be used by classes and small events on campus. Edward wanted to share this information to offer some support and inspiration for ways of making practical theatre spaces work. Here’s a look at how ISB is making use of their space:

• We will be set up for each student to have 4 square meters of personal space on stage.

• The maximum number will be 26 students and one teacher on stage. That’s using the full stage including the apron at stage height and acoustic shells lined up against the upstage wall. All draperies removed except for the Main Drape and the UpstageTraveller which hides the back wall.

• If an audience is permitted or a class chooses to use the House seating – we will use every fifth seat and skip every other row. We have seating capacity for a maximum of 46 people, in keeping with the 1.5 metre social distancing guidelines. Unusable seats are tied closed with ribbon.


• When requested, online tickets (no charge) can be made available for downloading ahead of time and we can include row/seat number plus entrance/exit doors assigned on the tickets to maintain distances using two or all three entrances to the room. This can be used to create randomly assigned seats or to permit students to choose a specific seat online. Those who are booking the space should discuss this with the Theatre Manager in advance if interested.

• Everybody on stage and in the audience to be wearing face masks at all times. Depending on the event, exceptions might be made on a case by case basis regarding the use of face masks on stage with increased social distancing.

• Hand sanitizers at the entrance of the building and at all theatre entrances must be used before entering the theatre. All seats, door handles, etc. to be properly sanitized at regular intervals as well as before and after each event. Attendants will be present at each bathroom during an event to keep them sanitized.

• We are able to use the 5-camera video system and room mics to record for later streaming (and possibly live-stream at time of event). We can move equipment around in the lighting/audio/video control booth to realize the 1.5 – 2 metre distancing for two to three technicians.

• There will be no concessions and no intermissions for any event.

• We have tested the ventilation system and although only meeting the minimum acceptable standard of changing the air in the room fully 3 times per hour, it does meet that acceptable standard.

• The booking system for the theatre space will be done through a link to an online ‘Request to use theatre’ form for the high school, middle school (and possibly elementary school and early childhood centre). The theatre when available and within limitations of the current setup (max of 46 people in the audience, use of masks, etc.) can also be used as a large classroom; viewing video on the big screen; large open stage space; etc. For example, a high school English class of 16 students have used the space for a Shakespeare workshop last week.