(From the New York Times, 5/31; via Pam Green; Photo: The New York Times.)
Patrick Kingsley, an international correspondent, and Laetitia Vancon, a photojournalist, are driving more than 3,700 miles to explore the reopening of the European continent after coronavirus lockdowns. Read all their dispatches.
PRAGUE — To attend her first play in more than two months, Marie Reslova, a prominent Czech theater critic, drove into Prague, headed to a large vegetable market, parked next to a convertible sports car and switched off her engine.
Soon, actors from the Czech National Theater strode onto a platform a few yards from Ms. Reslova’s windshield.
The play had begun. And she hadn’t even left her car.
The Czech Republic enforced tighter restrictions than most European countries to combat the coronavirus pandemic. For several weeks, Czechs were barred even from jogging without a mask. Even after the government eased that restriction, masks were still mandatory in most other public contexts.
But the country also loosened the lockdown earlier than most — and that has made it a laboratory for how arts and culture can adapt to a context in which some restrictions on social life have been lifted, while others remain in place.
The drive-in theater at Prague’s vegetable market was an ambitious example. To circumvent restrictions on public gatherings, audience members watched plays, concerts and comedy from behind their steering wheels — in a monthlong program that ended with a variety act by the National Theater last Sunday evening, attended by Ms. Reslova.
Across Europe, drive-ins have become a familiar means of circumventing pandemic restrictions. By default, cars keep their occupants socially distanced, leading even nightclub owners and priests to set up drive-in discos and churches.
Though considered a gimmick at first, their proliferation suggests they could become a common feature of society at least until the development of vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus.
But that will likely have ramifications for both the environment and the quality of cultural events. At times, the drive-in theater felt more like a traffic jam than a work of drama.
When the audience members wanted to applaud, they honked their horns.