In ‘Blindness’ at STC, the audience is live, with not an actor in sight

This prophetic play about a pandemic will happen entirely between the ears.

Shakespeare Theatre Company will open the doors of Sidney Harman Hall for the first time in over a year for the Donmar Warehouse’s sound and light installation Blindness. Prior to ReOpen DC’s extending theater capacity to 25 percent on April 5, STC received a waiver from D.C. Government’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency to allow Blindness to open with certain safety precautions in place.

“We’ve been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to reopen our doors safely and to welcome audiences back,” shared Artistic Director Simon Godwin. “This production is prescient, prophetic, and utterly thrilling. I cannot wait for our audiences to enjoy it.”

From The Donmar Warehouse 2020 production of ‘Blindness.’ Photo by Helen Maybanks.

In a unique experience where the audience is onstage, but actors are not, socially distanced patrons wear binaural headphones plunging them into the dystopic world of Blindness. This “dark-room delight” (Theatrely), based on Nobel Prize writer José Saramago’s novel, unearths how a pandemic of blindness causes chaos, fear, and social unrest. In a “tour de force of voice acting” (TheaterMania), Olivier Award nominee Juliet Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply) searches for glimmers of hope in a time of figurative and literal darkness. The “brilliantly terrifying” Blindness (The Daily Beast) is adapted by Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) and directed by Walter Meierjohann.

From The Donmar Warehouse 2020 production of ‘Blindness.’ Photo by Helen Maybanks.

Blindness sold out the Donmar Warehouse in London last year and is now running concurrently off-Broadway—at the Daryl Roth Theatre, where it has been named The New York Times Critic’s Pick—as well as in Hong Kong and New Zealand. “Blindness will now be seen by audiences around the world, which makes me very proud and grateful,” Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director Michael Longhurst shares. “COVID-19 has dramatically changed the world and I am so pleased that our production can contribute to theaters opening their doors again.”

Blindness begins May 1 and is extended to run until June 13, 2021, with viewing times at 7 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays; there are also showings on Wednesdays at noon. Tickets are $49, except weekend and Wednesday matinees, which are $44; all tickets are general admission. Tickets for Blindness are available for purchase now online. All artists, dates, and titles are subject to change.


Patrons will be seated onstage at Sidney Harman Hall in a socially distanced manner and will never be seated next to someone outside their own party. A limited number of single tickets are available for purchase by calling the Box Office, (202) 547-1122. All patrons and staff will wear masks at all times while in the building, and must stay home if they are feeling ill or experiencing any symptoms of illness. To stay within the guidelines of D.C.’s ReOpenDC plan, the seating capacity is limited to 40 guests and there will never be more than 50 people in the building. Complete information about STC’s Safety Guidelines is available here.

From The Donmar Warehouse 2020 production of ‘Blindness.’ Photo by Helen Maybanks.


THE DONMAR WAREHOUSE is a 251-seat, not-for-profit theater in Covent Garden, London, led by Artistic Director Michael Longhurst and Executive Director Henny Finch. Their mission is to bring together a wide variety of people in their intimate warehouse space and elsewhere to create, witness, and participate in thrilling, world-class theater. The Donmar has won more than 100 awards in its 28-year history, with highlights of the program including founder artistic director Sam Mendes’ productions of Cabaret (with Alan Cumming) and The Blue Room (with Nicole Kidman). Michael Grandage (Artistic Director 2002-2012) brought notable productions of Othello with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ewan McGregor, and Red with Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne. Josie Rourke (AD 2012-2019) brought Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus, and a trilogy of all-female Shakespeare plays directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Current Artistic Director Michael Longhurst’s inaugural 2019-20 season focused on important stories, thrillingly told, and included new plays by leading writers including Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Alice Birch, and Mike Lew.

WALTER MEIERJOHANN was Artistic Director of HOME from 2013 to 2018 and International Associate Director at the Young Vic in London. At the Young Vic, his productions included the European premiere of In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell McCraney and Kafka’s Monkey, which toured to Sydney, Melbourne, Athens, Paris, Tokyo, Istanbul, Taipei, and New York. The production, which starred Kathryn Hunter, also showed in HOME’s 2015 opening season, with Hunter reprising her lead role. Walter has worked extensively in Germany and the UK at theaters including: the Barbican; Liverpool Playhouse; Nottingham Playhouse; The Curve, Leicester; Residenztheater, Munich; Staatsschauspiel, Dresden; Schauspiel, Graz; and Arena, Berlin, for Peter Stein’s Faust Ensemble and Impulse Theatre Festival. Prior to joining the Young Vic, Walter was Artistic Director of Neubau at the State Theatre of Dresden. In opera, he has assisted the late Klaus-Michael Grueber in his productions of Aida (Nederlands Opera, Amsterdam) and Don Giovanni (Ruhrfestspiele).

SIMON STEPHENS is an Olivier and Tony award-winning playwright. His theater credits include Fortune (Metropolitan, Tokyo), Maria, Rage (Thalia, Hamburg), The Threepenny Opera (NT), Fatherland (MIF 2017/Lyric Hammersmith/LIFT Festival 2018), Heisenberg (West End), Obsession (Barbican/Toneelgroep, Amsterdam), The Seagull, Herons, Morning, Three Kingdoms, A Thousand Stars that Explode in the Sky, Punk Rock (Lyric Hammersmith); Carmen Disruption (Deutsches Schauspielhaus/Almeida); Nuclear War, Birdland, Country Music, Bluebird (Royal Court); The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (Olivier and Tony Awards for Best New Play) (NT/West End/Broadway), A Doll’s House (Young Vic/West End); Sea Wall (Bush), Harper Regan, Port (Royal Exchange, Manchester/NT), and On the Shore of the Wide World (Royal Exchange, Manchester). He has also written for film, television, and radio. Simon is a professor at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and Artistic Associate at the Lyric Hammersmith.

JULIET STEVENSON is one of Britain’s leading actors. Her most recent theater credits include The Doctor, for which she won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actress and is currently nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress, Mary Stuart, Hamlet (Almeida/West End); Wings, and Happy Days (Young Vic). Juliet won the 1991 Olivier Award for Best Actress for her performance in Death and the Maiden, and has been nominated a further five times. Juliet has received five BAFTA nominations for her work on screen. Her films include Truly, Madly, Deeply (Evening Standard Film Award for Best Actress), Bend it like Beckham, When did you last see your Father?, and Being Julia. Juliet’s latest television work includes Riviera and Out of her Mind, a comedy series with Sara Pascoe which will air in September 2020. Her other credits include One of Us and The Enfield Haunting, and she appeared as a series regular in Atlantis and The Village. She was awarded the CBE in 1999.


Led by Artistic Director Simon Godwin and Executive Director Chris Jennings, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) is the nation’s premier classical theater company. STC has become synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theater more accessible to audiences in and around the nation’s capital, building on the foundation laid by Founding Artistic Director Michael Kahn.

Recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award, STC’s mission is to create innovative productions that inspire dialogue and connect classic works to the modern human experience. The Company focuses on works with profound ideas, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare and others—ambitious, enduring plays with universal themes—for all audiences. At this time of transition, the Company’s mission evolves with a three-year initiative to produce family-friendly theater during the holidays, and an expansion of the definition of “classic” to include playwrights previously excluded from the canon, with a renewed commitment to high-quality, exhilarating, inclusive theater.


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