Germany theater help beat coronavirus blues!



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D.Live Cinema Image: D.Live

It is ingenuity at its best – the video live streaming platform D.Live has discovered a unique way to host live concerts that will not require people to stay at home: A drive-in theater in Düsseldorf, Germany, where guests are able to enjoy live music without having to fear that they might be violating any law due to strict rules in place for coronavirus outbreak.

Up to 500 cars can be accommodated in the parking area, which means that 1,000 to 2,000 tickets can be sold for each concert, depending on each car’s occupancy. Up to four people are allowed, with the rider that they should belong to the same family.

The drive-in theater opened its doors for this season on April 8. Fourteen film screenings sold out in 12 hours. D.Live CEO Michael Brill told mediapersons that 14 live shows, representing different event formats and genres, are already in queue for the coming three months.

“There are so many artistes who are really excited about the opportunity to get out there again,” he said, explaining that existing travel restriction limited the program to local German artistes for the time being.

Germany instituted strict social distancing measures since March 22 this year due to COVID-19, and people weren’t allowed to leave their homes until and unless it was very much necessary. Though lockdown has been eased in Germany, but restaurants, cinemas, bars and theaters were still not given a target date for opening.

Large public events, which include concerts and festivals, are still banned till August 31, 2020.

Brill said his team began brainstorming the moment it became clear that live events were going to be most affected as severe lockdown was in place in Germany due to the coronavirus outbreak. Recommendations for venue closures began in early March this year.

The drive-in theater has been showing movies since April 7, and on Easter Sunday, the parking lot was the site of a church service. “It’s been incredible. The audience is really coming, and they are really happy and more than willing to experience the program even though restrictions are in place,” exulted Brills.

Concerts are next in line. “Our message to this industry is: Let’s move on, there’s no time to stop. We need to keep the flame of our business burning,” Brill asserted.

The company has been reaching out to promoters, informing them about “Germany’s only concert venue,” which isn’t even a tongue-in-cheek comment during these times of coronavirus.

The lighting set-up can be expanded if a show requires it. There’s no public address system; the sound is transmitted to FM radios in the cars which is something very innovative.

“Depending on your sound system, and most cars have a decent one these days, you’ll be able to enjoy the music in great sound quality, while controlling the volume in your private cocoon,” Brill informed.

Teams can use D.Live’s production office and backstage facilities of Merkur Spiel-Arena in Düsseldorf, which is part of the company’s venue portfolio and a two-minute shuttle ride from the open-air theater.

To follow rules in place due to the pandemic, all cars are being parked at least 1.5 meters apart, the minimum social distance people have been asked to keep in Germany.

Tickets are issued in digital formats and scanned through the closed car window on site. Payments on site are all cashless.

Consuming food and beverage is allowed inside the car. Two menus are available on each night and can be preordered or bought on site. The food is prepared in advance, and nothing is cooked on site during the event. Visitors are also allowed to bring their own food and drinks.

Two stage elements are built to the left and right of the movie screen, joined by a catwalk, making the entire structure some 60 meters wide. Even the acts will have enough space to maintain the required distance.

Booking and Ticketing Director Daniela Stork and Head of Production Fabian Müller are the contacts for promoters interested in bringing in a concert.

D.Live won’t be laughing all the way to the bank for the concerts. While an audience of 2,000 people at the most would call for a club set-up, the size of the stage and all the other health and safety requirements from the German Government call for infrastructure that is more akin to an arena production, Brill informed.

“It’s a matter of attitude. Without these restrictions, our concept would probably interest nobody. But the passion for live events remains unbridled, which is a great sign,” he observed.

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