Since our self-quarantines all began four months ago, we’ve all had really stilted social lives, with just about no way to gather together for any shared public activities.

This month, in a limited way, that’s begun to change thanks to the Drive-In phenomenon.  It started a few weeks back with the Newton Nomadic Theater’s Secret Drive-In Concert. It sold out in a few hours and the guests loved it.

It’s picked up some big steam this week when Newton Community Pride announced two night’s of Drive-In movies – Field of Dreams on Fri July10, and Sonic the Hedgehog on July 17.  Even though they substantially increased the number of tickets (cars) compared to the Secret Drive-in Concert, those two events sold out within a day.

This week Hope is Rising–  a free drive-in gospel concert event organized by the NewCity Church was announced for Sunday July 12,  It’s designed as a safe space for people of color and allies to recharge and be inspired.  I’m sure this will sell out quickly, if it hasn’t already.

Next up on July 19 is a Drive-in Black Lives Matter rally organized by folks from Solomon Schechter School.

All these different kind of events have three things in common:

* Covid safety is managed by having folks stay in their cars and park in alternating spaces

* FM radio broadcast to the guest’s cars are what tie everybody together

* All five of these events are being held in the same parking lot on the old, now unused, Marshalls plaza on Needham St.  All five of these are courtesy of the generosity of Northland Development who owns the property.   Northland is planning to raze the parking lot in September.  In the meantime though they have been incredibly generous and civic minded by offering the use of the property for these varied civic events at no charge during these trying times.

For the months ahead I have a few questions:

  • The demand for these events have been off-the-chart due to pent up demand by a nearly housebound city.  Should we figure out ways to increase the number, variety and frequency of Drive-In events.  If so, what are other obvious suitable big parking lots that might be available for use?
  • What Drive-In events most interest you?  Concerts?, movies? pie-eating concerts:-), other?
  • What comes next? – What will be the next logical non-drive-in, covid-aware way for people to gather safely whenever things loosen up the next increment or two?

Its likely to be a long, long time before our theater can perform in our usual intimate performance spaces packed with people. So in the meantime I’m looking for new ideas to keep me from getting myself into trouble.  #IdleHands #DevilsWorkshop


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