The Manship Theatre is a nonprofit performing arts center at 100 Lafayette St, a prominent and beautifully modern location diagonally across from the old state capitol in downtown Baton Rouge.

Under normal circumstances, it draws crowds as a cultural cornerstone of the area, boasting a variety of unique live performances and film showings. Under current circumstances, there is an emphasis on the latter as The Manship Theatre maintains its role as a community artistic hub by providing regular showings of titles both widely familiar and lesser known.

The film program is strengthened by its frequent thematic promotions, including random exhibitions horror short film collections and Halloween and Christmas classics for the holiday season. September features much of John Hughes’ work, starting with “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986) on Sept 10 and continuing with a different film every Thursday for the rest of the month.

To abide by current rules for theater houses, seating accommodations have been made. Sections are roped off and seating is assigned to guarantee social distancing, so buying tickets online as early as possible is recommended. As with anything in this turbulent time, drawing up a schedule for the future is very difficult, but the Manship Theatre has proven to be at the forefront of appropriately returning to normalcy.

“We’re doing it 100% safely as we can; it’s based on group size and cleaned before and after every event.” Director of Marketing and Programming John Kaufman said.

The building itself is the perfect setting for a reserved night out or date night, fitted with an operational bar and plenty of room to wander around after the showing. An attached gift shop boasts local artwork and knick knacks worth a browse. An elevator in the lobby takes guests to the rooftop sushi restaurant Tsunami for a classic meal and a show.

For audiences looking to expand their cultural horizons from the comfort of their home, the Manship Virtual Cinema makes a variety of media like foreign films, recorded performances and modern movies immediately available for a standard ticket price. This service also ensures that patrons unable to physically attend still have the opportunity to enjoy and support the program.

Due to the nature of the intimate theater and sizable pool of regulars, the Manship staff are able to get feedback and show what the people want to see.

“We send out a survey to the membership base and say ‘hey, what would you like to see?’” Kaufman said.

There are no live performances on the official event calendar accessible here until The Allman Betts Band opens it back up on April 28. In the past, the theater has hosted live bands to play film soundtracks to accompany showings for movies like “Night of the Living Dead” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The staff hopes to bring such experiences back to the stage as soon as it’s possible to safely do so.

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