‘THE PUZZLE THAT WE ALL NEED TO SOLVE’: CANADA’S THEATRE COMMUNITY PONDERS COMEBACK AMID COVID-19

'We need to prepare for the worst-case scenarios,' says head of theatres association

A ghost light — illumination left onstage at a theatre when it's unoccupied and otherwise dark — is seen on the main stage of Quebec City cultural venue Le Diamant on Friday. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC)

It’s been two months since the COVID-19 crisis brought the curtain down on Canada’s theatres, and each week seems to bring fresh announcements about seasons being cancelled or postponed from Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company to Ontario leaders, such as the Stratford Festival and Mirvish Productions, to the venerable Charlottetown Festival.

Even Broadway, the behemoth next door, will remain shuttered through Labour Day.

However, Canada’s theatre community — whilst staying engaged with fans during the pandemic via digital experiments, streams of pre-recorded shows and social media outreach — is gamely planning its revival and imagining exactly how to retake the stage.

“The campaign for Canadian theatre in general — whether it’s Stratford to the smallest indie theatre company — is how to make our audiences come back and how to make them feel safe, so that they keep coming back,” said Nina Lee Aquino, artistic director of Toronto’s Factory Theatre and president of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres.

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