Going into the dark

Dark days in the world of theatre                                                    

Dark days refer to the one or two days during a run when there is no show.

The theatre is “dark” on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday so the actors and production team excitedly look forward to this day as one of their few chances to get some rest, do some errands, laundry and maybe even take a class to improve their professional practice.

Considering the state of the world right now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dark days have taken on a whole new meaning.

March 26 is World Theatre Day and theatres across North American for the first time-ever-are all completely dark. From Broadway to Toronto, Vancouver to our New Vintage Studios in Kelowna, we are all dark right now.

Based on discussions with my peers across the country, most of whom have cancelled the remainder of their seasons, we will all likely remain closed at least until the summer. 

I learned about Broadway shutting down while I was on a conference call with all the artistic directors across Canada. The overwhelming feeling of dread about what was to come for all of us is something I will never forget.

I have always been an eternal optimist and my motto is “nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”  Most people know that I am a passionate advocate for the arts, it truly has been my life’s work. Aside from my family, nothing means more to me.

But the world has changed and in just over a week and so have I. My unbridled love for theatre has taken a backseat to my concern for the health of my family, our community and for those who are working so hard to keep things running. 

It was hard to cancel our festival, KFX, and to consider what to do with our camps, classes and upcoming shows. This is nothing compared to the true crisis we are facing with this pandemic. 

It is without question I closed our theatre last Tuesday because I value the health of our students, patrons and artists above everything. I want to make sure that we are part of this important movement to flatten the curve and contain the spread of the virus.

None of this means that I am giving up. In fact, this economic and health crisis has hardened my resolve. Over my 30 years working in theatre, I have faced extreme challenges and times of great economic uncertainty, but nothing like this.

Artistically, I am forced to rethink the way I am going to work with our artists and present our work. I need to reconsider how we will fund our projects, which are almost entirely reliant on ticket sales.

I wonder how I will contact funders and sponsors in this time of economic devastation. All this planning has to be done at a time when no-one knows when and how we will return to our studios and stages.

Expect our spring plays — Leaps and Bounds and The Pink Unicorn — to appear in unexpected ways that we hope will be as thrilling as our live shows are. 

Look for our annual Playwright’s Hot House to be an online experience and our youth and teen theatre classes to be innovative and exciting.

For now, it is important for New Vintage Theatre to be dark. We all need to take care of ourselves and each other by just staying home. 

When the lights do come up on Kelowna stages again, I think they will appear to burn even brighter than before.

The actors will be even more compelling, the musicians more melodic and the sets, prop and costume designs even more magical. Sometimes in order to really appreciate things you need to miss them.

We will miss you over the next few weeks, dear audience, but know we will be back.

 If you can help New Vintage Theatre by making a donation to our charitable, not for profit society, we would truly appreciate it and if we can help you, let us know.

Take care. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Bonnie on Stage articles

About the Author

Bonnie Gratz is an actor, director, and playwright. She is the Artistic Director of Kelowna's New Vintage Theatre, and a member of the Playwright's Guild of Canada and The Literary and Dramaturges of North America. 

For more on Bonnie, check out www.bonnie-gratz.com or check out www.newvintage.ca

Contact Bonnie at:  [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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