Could this be the future of theaters?

Berlin Theatre seats
Credit: Moritz Haase

A Berlin-based theater group has made some major changes to its venue in order to ensure social distancing.

As whole countries reopen, many public places like bars, restaurants, museums, tourist attractions, and theaters are trying to figure out ways to safely welcome visitors without causing another surge of coronavirus cases in their communities.

According to Dezeen, The Berliner Ensemble theater group has removed 500 of its 700 seats in order to make sure their venue is compliant with Germany’s social distancing guidelines, which state that people should stay 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart, according to DW News.

The group posted a photo on Twitter of its new, temporary venue configuration in the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm building. The new configuration includes alternated single and two-person pairs, placed one or two spaces apart, with every other row completely removed. The theater intends to open again in September, according to Dezeen.

“The seats were removed in the last 10 days for two reasons: On the one hand, we try to come up with creative solutions for the current corona regulations,” said Oliver Reese, artistic director of Berliner Ensemble to Dezeen. “The auditorium now looks like an installation, it is not just empty rows. By removing the seats, the remaining ones are easier to access.” He added that seats that have been removed will undergo renovation.

In addition, Reese told Dezeen that the theater will implement contactless ordering and mandatory use of masks until visitors reach their seats. Performances, of course, will be just as enjoyable as before, even with the new arrangement.

“We really want to play! It is not only our primary mission and obligation as a public theatre but also our heartfelt wish to get back on stage," said Reese to Dezeen. “We had to change the plans for our next season several times in the past weeks, but I am happy that we have finally discovered creative and playful ways with our actors and artistic teams to deal with the regulations in the coming season with an indeed extraordinary seating plan.”

While this new seating arrangement is temporary, it may be a glimpse into how other theaters might proceed to reopen across the globe.