Robbins refused to reopen his theater company while vaccination mandates were still in place because “theater is a forum and must be open to all”.
The vast majority of the entertainment industry has been quick to embrace COVID-19 safety protocols, seeing masks and vaccination requirements as a way back to work during a pandemic that would otherwise have shut down production. But not everyone sees these rules as universally positive.
In a new Substack interview with Matt Taibbi, Tim Robbins expressed concern that too much pandemic-related caution could ultimately make the art less accessible. The Shawshank Redemption star explained that the Actors Gang Theatre, a Los Angeles theater company where he serves as Artistic Director, made the decision to delay its reopening to 2021 because it didn’t want to enforce a vaccination mandate for viewers.
“We were able to open last September, but there were still all these restrictions,” Robinson said of California’s vaccine mandates. “I had a problem with this idea of having a litmus test on the door for entry. I understood the health concerns, but I also understand that theater is a forum and must be open to everyone. When you start giving reasons why people can’t go to a theater, I believe it’s not a theater anymore. Not in the tradition of what it historically has always been, which is a forum where stories are told and different elements come together and find out.”
He added: “That’s what it’s for. People find out their relationship to the gods, to society, to each other. But at the door you don’t say you can’t come in because you didn’t do this or that. I had a problem with that. So I waited until everyone was allowed to go to the theater.”
Ultimately, Robbins is concerned that preventive public health measures taken during the pandemic have gone too far and could ultimately be a dangerous trend for the arts.
“I almost feel like there are forces in our society that just want art to die,” he said. “It’s not just the swear words from the right now, like it used to be when the moral majority wanted art to die. Now it’s unions and citizens who are once again putting forward virtuous reasons for all of this. The truth is many local theaters have failed and the pandemic has helped drive the nail in the coffin.”
https://www.indiewire.com/2022/10/tim-robbins-covid-vaccine-mandates-bad-for-art-1234777471/ Tim Robbins: Covid vaccine regulation bad for art