NYC. Stories like this are really important and not getting enough play. Theater never really recovered from the pandemic. New work is foundational to American theater. The entire downtown and experimental ecosystem has been, essentially, wiped out, with a few notable exceptions. I am really surprised there isn't more comprehensive reporting on all of it.
What does it mean? Well, one thing it means is a huge, potential loss of (and to) the next generation of artists. Artists and works that would not just be valuable for the avant-garde, but for all of American theater, and, perhaps, art and entertainment and media at large. Many of the game changing shows don't start 'big' and 'commercial' (A Strange Loop, Hamilton, Hadestown, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Spring Awakening, and on and on).
Additionally, live theater is an arena where quick and resilient bounce-back is practically impossible. I suspect larger government efforts and community mobilization will become necessary to buoy a very delicate ecology.
None of this means theater won't bounce back or find new avenues; but, the next moves are wildly unclear. And there are many compounding factors—the pandemic shuttering all of American theater for years, progressive pressure to be more expansive and inclusive (some of which I agree with strongly, and some of which I think is egoism gone berserk), pushback to progressive pressures (some of which I agree with, and some of which I also think is...egoism gone berserk), and just the overall financial realities and limits due to years of setback. Audiences have not returned. And the biggest questions, I think, are: How does theater get audiences to return? How does theater get new audiences? We have an epidemic of loneliness, which goes deeper than, say, the absence of romantic partnership or immediate family—it's about the loss of community. I think people need to feel like they are necessary components of a community (whether that be onstage or in the audience), and theater needs to be an event—a tactile, visceral, full-bodied event. The yellow brick road has definitely split open. Hard to know where to go and what to follow, and how to build and re-build...