We are all aware of how much the COVID-19 pandemic has affected how we entertain ourselves.
We can't see live music, and all the wonderful festivals that normally blanket the province during July and August have either been cancelled or moved online.
We can't see movies in theatres right now and drive-in theatres have popped up to fill the gap, accounting for social distancing.
And what about live theatre?
The most famous live theatre events in Canada, the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, was forced to cancel its 2020 season. In its place, the Stratford Festival is offering online courses, from dance lessons to study kits on past performances and interviews with cast members and technical and creative artists.
More serious are the financial difficulties the festival will face. Without live performances, actors, directors and technical staff won't get paid, and the festival would be in jeopardy for the 2021 season.
Stratford is also offering sales of DVDs of past performances and online streaming performances to help raise money to pay their staff and keep things going for next year.
Locally, organizations like Western Canada Theatre, Project X, Kamloops Players and the TRU Actors Workshop Theatre have all shut down due to the pandemic.
Western Canada Theatre is hoping to open in the fall with limited seating events at the Pavilion Theatre for a series called YKAStrong. They are currently accepting proposals for the shows in the series for the fall, scheduled September to December. They're also hoping to announce a modified stage schedule for the Sagebrush Theatre in the fall.
Project X's Theatre Under the Trees (formerly known as X-Fest), is normally held outdoors in Prince Charles Park, but was cancelled this year. The slated productions, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Red Riding Hood, are planned for next summer. They have launched a play development program called New Shoots to develop new live theatre and public readings, plus mentorship programs for emerging artists.
Like Stratford, live theatre organizations are also in need of funds to pay staff and keep things together for when we can all get together and enjoy live arts again, so donations are being accepted by all organizations. Look them up online for more details.
The Stratford Festival has said it well: “While the creation of a vaccine and anti-viral drugs will cure this pandemic, ultimately what will heal society in its aftermath is art.”
We need these artistic institutions to survive so we all can come together and celebrate when life returns to something more normal.
Steve Marlow is the program co-ordinator at CFBX, an independent radio station in Kamloops. Tune in at 92.5 FM on the dial or go online to thex.ca.