Under the Radar Theater Festival Canceled as Omicron Surges

As a surge of coronavirus cases driven by the Omicron variant takes a growing toll on live performance, the Public Theater on Friday announced it would cancel its Under the Radar festival, originally scheduled to begin on Jan. 12.

The theater cited “multiple disruptions related to the rapid community spread of the Omicron variant,” including effects on staff availability, cancellations by artists and audience members, flight interruptions and visa processing delays.

“This is incredibly disappointing,” Laura Rigby, a spokeswoman for the theater, said in a statement, “but we believe it is necessary given the continued surge and ongoing disruptions.”

The lineup for Under the Radar — the Public’s annual showcase for experimental work, and one of several New York festivals that have formed around the Association of Performing Arts Professionals conference — was to have included “Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner,” by Jasmine Lee-Jones; “Our Country,” by Annie Saunders and Becca Wolff; “An Evening With an Immigrant,” by Inua Ellams; “Otto Frank” by Roger Guenveur Smith; and “Mud/Drowning,” with texts by María Irene Fornés.

“The Art of Theater” and “With My Own Hands,” two monologues by Pascal Rambert, will still be presented by Performance Spaces for the 21st Century in Chatham, N.Y., as part of Under the Radar’s On the Road initiative.

In December, the Public announced that it would require full vaccination and, through the end of January, proof of a negative Covid-19 test to access its theaters and restaurant. With no main-stage performances during that time, the policy was aimed mainly at Under the Radar, which had been scheduled to end on Jan. 30.

Another presentation of experimental performance, the monthlong Exponential Festival, will be presented online, on the festival’s YouTube channel and Twitch.

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