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A sign at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto urges residents to wash their hands frequently during the COVID-19 outbreak on March 24, 2020.

GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images

Audiences are set to be welcomed back to the Princess of Wales Theatre for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered indoor stage productions in March.

But rather than the traditional thrill of live performance, Mirvish Productions says theatregoers will be seated on stage and given sanitized headphones for a “socially distanced sound installation.”

The Toronto theatre company says it’s preparing to premiere Blindness, based on Jose Saramago’s contagion-themed novel, at the downtown Toronto theatre next month.

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In a statement on Thursday, David Mirvish said staff have spent months consulting with artists associations and medical experts to find ways to offer theatrical experiences while abiding by COVID-19 safety precautions.

Mirvish said the Toronto production of Blindness, which saw a successful run in London in recent months, marks a “first step to re-energizing the theatre community.”

Each 70-minute performance will be limited to 50 people spaced out on stage in singles or pairs. English actress Juliet Stevenson’s narration will be piped into headphones as part of the show’s immersive sound design that Mirvish says is meant to put audience members at “the centre of the action.”

Blindness is set to start on Nov. 17, but Mirvish says that date may change depending on local health and safety conditions. Schedule and ticket details will be announced later this month.

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