Unfortunately there’s no simple answer to that. There was a lot of stress for GMs due to attendees who had been cast but couldn’t attend, many of whom we naturally enough didn’t hear about until the day before or the day. We asked people not to come if sick, and I’m glad they didn’t (and in some cases didn’t come if they lived with someone sick), but of course it adds a lot of strain to pre-cast games. The game worked well on the day, but the process was very hard and risky and I don’t like to put GMs through that added pain.
Theatreform games with cast characters have a special vulnerability to people being unable to attend, and there’s a vastly increased risk of that just now. Our two “starter” games that we ran as part of the Intro to Larp had character-building workshops at the start instead of a cast list, so they were less vulnerable, but we did see numbers drop enough that one of the games was operating with fewer players than desirable. The 35 players we were on target for with the original date would have been great for 2 games, the 20 players we had on the day might have been better fit into a single game.
If I was running a theatreform or con now and got to choose the date, I’d be inclined to do it near the end of summer (Feb/Mar) when respiratory infections are at their lowest, with the hope of reducing the attendee loss. But that’s too soon in 2021 to do this again.
I had considered running the Auckland Larp Faire and Pegasus on alternating years, as I think running both every year would run the risk of crowding the calendar, and alternating could help maintain their freshness. However interest in buying larp gear is low right now due to the lack of games to use it for (plus uncertainty about whether future games will run and pandemic-related income loss), so a Faire with the usual big vendor hall currently seems unwise.
There’s a possibility of a 2021 Faire with no vendors (or a much reduced emphasis on kit) focussing instead on the talks, an Intro to Larp, and an afternoon or evening game like we did with Sanctuary. But then the game could hit the same problem with season and illness, i.e. it would be better run in Feb/Mar. Unless we had a game that was extremely resilient to player losses, like one with a character creation workshop before the game. I don’t know of a large game like that, so it might need to be original. That’s about where I’m at.
EDIT: it’s also hard on the attendees who can’t make it, and difficult to budget around the attendance uncertainty.