THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS IS GOING TO BE HARD ON ACTORS, BUT THE THEATRE WILL FIND A WAY TO SURVIVE

It’s not every day an actor comes off stage from a successful dress rehearsal to find a letter of termination in their dressing room.

Edmonton's Citadel Theatre was forced to cancel this production of Belinda Cornish's The Garneau Block. (ARTHUR MAH/COURTESY OF EDMONTON’S CITADEL THEATRE)

It’s not every day an actor comes off stage from a successful dress rehearsal to find a letter of termination in their dressing room. I’ve heard of Broadway flops closing immediately after their opening night – but at least they had an opening.

Last week, at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, senior management gathered the nine actors and the creative team of The Garneau Block to inform us that Belinda Cornish’s stage adaptation of Todd Babiak’s beloved novel would be cancelled until further notice. After multiple years of development, the piece got one last run-through for archival purposes, and then out-of-town actors, including me, were flown home before the COVID-19 pandemic presented new restrictions. It was a sensible decision, done in sync with every other theatre company in the country.

At that point, the Alberta government had limited public gatherings to 250 people or to 50 people or less if a senior citizen was present. This news was a piercing signal for any performer who looks out at all those beautiful blue hairs eight shows a week. Many theatres are sustained by mature theatregoers, and their health and wellness should dictate the pandemic-fighting measures taken by our sector.

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