The Lobero Theatre’s doors remain closed and its stage dark with concerts postponed to curb further spreading of COVID-19, but the venue is maintaining its connection with the Santa Barbara community by taking a backwards glance into its long history with the online information series “Intermission.”
Through daily posts on the Lobero website aptly named “Onstage on this Date,” the series highlights notable past events in the theater’s history that occurred on the corresponding date of posting.
These events include New York actress Anna Boyle’s four-night run of melodramas in 1886, the London String Quartet playing at the theatre in 1926, Violinist Isaac Stern’s second Lobero performance in 1940, and Joan Baez playing the Lobero when she was just 21 in 1962.
The daily posts include photographs of old newspaper clippings on the performers from circa the same period as the featured performance and in some cases, videos of them performing elsewhere. “Intermission” isn’t a digital series in which the Lobero releases its own archived videos of past performances like the Santa Barbara Symphony’s new “Sunday With the Symphony” streaming series or the similar series recently started by Opera Santa Barbara.
In an interview with the News-Press, Lobero Theatre Executive Director David Asbell said his venue doesn’t boast as comparable a wealth of recorded performances as companies like the Santa Barbara Symphony or Opera Santa Barbara. Still, it does have a couple and if it can get permission from the artists in the footage, may consider releasing them while the theater is closed.
Mr. Asbell added that the Lobero does have the technical ability to do live streaming, which it may do in the future. If this were to happen, it would be at a time when gathering restrictions would allow for marshaling a small filming crew, but not a regular performance with a packed audience. If such a time comes and Mr. Asbell and his colleagues see a demand in the community for this kind of content, they will consider making it happen.
“We do have that capability, so we’re definitely looking into that,” he said.
As the Lobero is currently without income and running on the money saved up in its bank account, Mr. Asbell admitted that it is a stressful time for his theater like it is for all other venues. However, the Lobero it turns out is luckier than some others as it has managed to postpone and reschedule almost all of the concerts that were planned for the spring, rather than cancelling them outright. While doubtful that some of the Lobero’s June gigs will go on as planned, many of the postponed events have been rescheduled to August and when the theater reopens, Mr. Asbell expects it will proceed with just as it planned before the coronavirus.
“This will end and when it does, we’ll be right back where we left off,” he said.