Covid Halloween: How a Force of Nature dropped the curtain on Fallen Saints

In the fourth installment of our Halloween in the Time of Coronavirus series, Artistic Director Sebastian Muñoz explains the decision to cancel the seasonal theatrical production.

Fallen Saints, the Halloween anthology series from Force of Nature Productions, has been haunting Los Angeles theatres since 2016; unfortunately, it will not strut and fret its hour upon the stage this year, out of concern for protecting audiences from the Covid-19 pandemic still afflicting the city. Though not as immersive or interactive as Delusion: Interactive Theatre or the Wicked Lit Halloween Theatre Festival, past productions of Fallen Saints tended to be staged in intimate space that blurred the lines between actors and audience - an approach that raised concerns about social distancing during a pandemic.

Hollywood Gothique asked Force of Nature's Artistic Director, Sebastian Muñoz, about the difficult decision to lower the curtain on Halloween 2020 and whether he could envision any possible way a theatrical production might be safely mounted for Halloween in the Time of Coronavirus.

Hollywood Gothique: Fallen Saints has often been staged without a proscenium arch between the play and the spectators. Were strategies considered to adjust for social distancing?

Sebastian Muñoz: We had an initial meeting in which we kicked around different ideas and scenarios. We then gave ourselves a week or so to come up with solutions and safety precautions for each one. They all presented a fun challenge and concept we were excited about.

Hollywood Gothique: When did it become clear that these strategies might not be not enough?

Sebastian Muñoz: It was fairly quick process. At the end of the day, it came down to the safety and comfort level of our actors and our audiences. The more we spoke about it, despite the excitement, these questions would come up: Can we do this safely? Will the actors be OK with this? Will our audiences feel safe and comfortable? Will people come to it?  If we encountered a single “no," we scrapped the idea.

Hollywood Gothique: Ultimately, why did you opt not to proceed?

Sebastian Muñoz: No project has a reward that would outweigh the safety of others. The responsible and socially conscious decision for us was to not do it. We do not regret it. However, like many others, we are working on several projects, including Fallen Saints, that will utilize Zoom and the digital video format. We will continue to do this at least through the end of the year.

Hollywood Gothique: Hypothetically, can you imagine any way to make live theatre safe during a pandemic?

Sebastian Muñoz: I think there are definitely ways of creating an experience that can be safe for all. It would require exercising responsible social distancing, tools, cleaning measures coupled with a great concept, and taking the proper time to sanitize . This, however, would require a great deal of money and resources that we simply don't have since Covid-19 has impacted our only source of income.

Learn more about Force of Nature Productions at their official website: fonproductions.com.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.

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