Share, , , Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, StumbleUpon


Posted in:

Torn Space offers SILENCE, Buffalo’s first live theater in the age of COVID-19

With its initial two performances already sold out, Torn Space Theater is offering the first post-pandemic, in-person, live theatrical event of Buffalo’s 2020 – 2021 season. Their traditional “early harvest ritual” runs at Silo City through August 16. After several months of local, regional, and Broadway theaters presenting Zoom-only live performances, audiences everywhere are eager for this. SILENCE will be presented outdoors, with limited seating, social distancing, masks and all COVID-19 safety protocols in place (read here or see below) but if one definition of theater is a “live actor(s) in front of a live audience” then this is definitely going to be that. And there’s even audience involvement as Torn Space asks that “audience members bring a piece of natural cloth (think cotton, wool, linen, no polyester, rayon, nylon, etc.) inscribed with something they wish to burn away or ignite into being.” Here’s short video that explains that process.

Torn Space will provide face masks for crew, cast, volunteers and patrons on-site, including specially-designed masks for performances that audiences and performers must wear during the entire performance because the actors will be circulating through the audience. Some masks from home may be permitted. Again, please read the safety protocols here or below.

So, what’s this all about? As Torn Space’s co-founder and Artistic Director Dan Shanahan explains: “Every August Torn Space Theater enacts an early harvest ritual on the grounds of Silo City, a vast campus of grain elevators stretching along the Buffalo River. 2020 has shown us in vivid detail a world that is out of balance. Wildfires, a global pandemic and Black Lives Matter have coalesced, providing a stark portrait of a society in need of change.”

Photography credit: Michael Thomas

As Shanahan recently told Jay Moran of NPR affiliate WBFO (listen here) SILENCE reflects “this unprecedented moment we’re living in.”

This new outdoor performance will have 9 performances, with July 31 and August 1 already sold out, but tickets are still available.

REMAINING DATES: Sunday August 2, August 7-9 and August 14-16, 2020.

TIMES: For all shows, doors at 7:00pm and the shows start promptly at 7:30 p.m.

VENUE: 85 Silo City Row Buffalo, NY 14203

IMPORTANT: Limited capacity. Tickets available online only, patrons must show proof of purchase (print at home receipt, smartphone receipt, etc.) for contactless entry.

In addition to online pre-sale only and contactless entry, those interested in just how Torn Space will be protecting actors and audiences, perhaps also offering a model for other theaters, can visit their website or read the following:

Torn Space Theater COVID-19 Safety Measures

Photography credit: Michael Thomas

General Protocol

When on-site, the following safety measures must be maintained by all (this includes patrons and Torn Space personnel including performers, crew, volunteers, and management staff):

Social Distancing

  • Audience seating will be at least six feet apart.
  • Event staff will help guide social distancing at entrances and exits.
  • Capacity will be very limited in an expansive setting capable of holding over 500 people.
  • All tickets will be pre-purchased with no on-site box office or concessions transactions. Patrons will need to show proof of purchase to staff, either a print at home ticket or smartphone receipt.
  • The large performance space allows plentiful room for social distancing .
  • If maintaining a six foot radius is not possible for any reason, (ex. emergency access, inquiries) face masks must be used.
  • Entry and exits will be staggered by nature of the spacious event and with assistance of personnel guidance.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Torn Space will provide face masks for crew, cast, volunteers and patrons on-site, including specially-designed masks for performances that audiences and performers will wear.
  • Patrons must wear a mask when attending Torn Space’s production of Silence. Patrons may use personal masks of an acceptable design:
  • Medical – paper, surgical, N95 or other
  • Fabric – handmade/sewn, ready-made
  • Masks must be worn over nose and mouth to provide proper protection against the spread of infection.
  • Actors will pass through audience at various moments during the performance, so masks must be worn even when audience is seated.


  • Hand sanitizing stations will be established for audience and backstage use.
  • Sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol will be provided. Sanitizer should be left to dry on the skin, not wiped off after application.


  • Signage on-site will remind everyone of proper social distancing, mask usage, and hand sanitization
  • Torn Space will emphasize social distancing/PPE guidance and instruction in marketing/event descriptions.
  • Targeted e-mails will remind patrons about the event safety precautions and sanitizing protocols and their role in maintaining social distancing.

Torn Space thanks you for helping us create performance in a healthy environment during this difficult time. The success of our work relies on your support and adherence to the current COVID-19 safety guidelines as listed above, required by the Federal and the New York State authorities. We will ask our visitors to exercise social distancing practice, wear masks, and follow Torn Space attendance guidance during the performance.

Photography credit: Michael Thomas

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For 20 years, as program host on Classical 94.5 WNED and continuing on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?"

As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take." And, on “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM and Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?"

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

View All Articles by Peter Hall
Hide Comments
Show Comments