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ATLANTA PHOTOGRAPHER MICHAEL BOATRIGHT loves theater. Always has. When Covid-19 forced metro playhouses to go dark — some in the midst of runs, others with shows about to open — he meditated on how to help. “The thing I’m trying to bring out is the sense of emptiness and loss represented by these empty theaters,” he says. “It’s easy to lose sight of the sheer vastness of the impact on the theater community caused by lockdowns and social distancing.” His answer: Dark Houses.

ATL photographer Michael Boatright

Michael Boatright

Companies large and small have been shuttered for some 125 days . . . and counting. Actors, directors, choreographers, stage managers, carpenters, painters, electricians and set, lighting, costume, sound, props and video designers are unemployed. Some companies have furloughed staff members. No one knows what the 2020–21 season will look like, save for the Alliance Theatre, which has announced a lineup of in–person, drive–in and virtual shows that will (hopefully) commence in November. Most other theaters are evaluating weekly, if not daily, how best to proceed.

Boatright, 61, grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where his photographer–dad taught him how to shoot and process film in a darkroom. “There is something magical to me in setting up a shot, getting the exposure, focus, composition right and then using chemistry to create an image.”

Boatright wants you to look at his photos, of course, but also to act on them — by donating to your favorite company, to the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival’s Artist Relief Fund, to C4 Atlanta’s Artist Lost Gig Fund or the Atlanta Artist Relief Fund, which prepares and delivers healthy meals to those without paychecks.

Boatright has photographed 20–25 spaces to date and has invested about 150 hours of his time, all for free. He’s still trying to nail down shoots at several venues, including True Colors Theatre Company/Southwest Arts Center, but here are 10 of his images.

DARK HOUSES - 7 Stages

7 STAGES, mainstage. 157–200 seats in Little Five Points. Dark since March 15 during Théâtre du Rêve’s “Viva La Fontaine!” Rehearsals were underway for “Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties.” Donate HERE.


Actor's Express Covid-19

ACTOR’S EXPRESS. 145 seats in West Midtown. Went dark March 15 during the run of Oscar-winner Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “The Brothers Size.” Donate HERE.


Alliance Theatre Covid-19

ALLIANCE THEATRE, the Coca-Cola Stage. 650 seats in Midtown. Went dark in mid-March during the run of the family musical “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience.” Donate HERE.


Aurora Theatre mainstage Covid-19

AURORA THEATRE mainstage. 250 seats in Lawrenceville. Went dark in mid-March during the run of the musical “On Your Feet: The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan.” Donate HERE.


Dad's Garage Covid-19

DAD’S GARAGE THEATRE COMPANY, from backstage. 206 seats in southeast Atlanta. Went dark March 20. Last performance was “Improvised Dungeons and Dragons” on March 13. Donate HERE.


Horizon Theatre Covid-19

HORIZON THEATRE COMPANY, from the lobby. 172 seats in Inman Park. Dark since March 18-19, just before opening the two-person drama “The Light” with Cynthia D. Barker and Enoch Armando King. Donate HERE.


Out Front Theatre Company Covid-19

OUT FRONT THEATRE COMPANY. 149 seats in West Midtown. Dark since March 15, during the run of “warplay,” a reimagining of a same-sex love story from the “Iliad.” Donate HERE.


Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse Covid-19

SHAKESPEARE TAVERN PLAYHOUSE. 200 seats in Midtown. Went dark after the March 15 performance of “Much Ado About Nothing.” Donate HERE.


Synchronicity Theatre Covid-19

SYNCHRONICITY THEATRE. 138 seats in North Midtown. Went dark March 16 during the world-premiere run of “Wayfinding.” Donate HERE.


In times like these, when we are separated by necessity, ArtsATL is needed more than ever. Please consider a donation so we can continue to highlight Atlanta’s creative community.


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