Caravan Farm Theatre appeals to PHO to allow winter show

Hoping the show can go on

An Okanagan theatre company is appealing to Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to let the show go on.

A recent edict from the provincial health officer has suspended social events and gatherings, including live theatre performances, until midnight Dec. 7.

The Caravan Farm Theatre Winter Sleigh Ride production of The Gift is currently scheduled to run multiple times Dec. 8 to Jan. 2.

In a letter to Dr. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, Caravan manager and artistic director Estelle Shook, along with Caravan Farm Theatre Society manager board chairperson Teresa Marshall, have asked the PHO to amend future orders to include professional live theatre on the list of businesses that are allowed to remain operational.

The theatre has also asked its patrons to sign the letter in support.

“While the Caravan’s board and staff commend Dr. Bonnie Henry and the Provincial Health Office's tireless efforts to steer BC through the pandemic, we believe that professional theatre is as safe, and plays as important a role in our communities, as movie theatres, bars, pubs and restaurants, and ski hills,” said Shook.

Caravan officials said from the beginning of the pandemic they have developed and maintained health and safety measures to ensure staff, crew and patrons are safe before and during productions.

“We have developed rigorous COVID-19 protocols in adherence with each provincial health order. These protocols have been developed and implemented by professionally trained practitioners, in conjunction with WorkSafe BC and the support of sectoral organizations such as Actsafe. This rapid adaptation has allowed us to continue to provide our community with meaningful cultural activity, who now, more than ever, need safe opportunities to connect, imagine and enjoy,” said Shook.

Winter production safety measures include capping audience capacity to 48 people per show and only selling tickets to 'bubbles' of six people or less.

Each of the four sleighs will accommodate 12 patrons of two bubbles each, with each designated a side of the sleigh and separated by a plexiglass barrier that will run across the middle. All patrons will be required to wear masks.

“Similar to movie theatres, restaurants, pubs and bars, Caravan has taken reservations of patrons in 'bubbles' to observe traffic flow and has designated a sanitized space to occupy in a shared common area. And like ski hills, our patrons assemble outdoors to attend events. They also similarly pass through a series of low, to no-contact processes such as a box office/admission gate, and front of house lobby/lift lines,” said Shook, adding ushers and front-of-house staff direct and control the movements of patrons.

“We knew a shut-down was a possibility and have designed our production to be ready to adapt. We will move the entire event to January if we need to. For those who cannot attend, the show will be available as a digital experience, complete with steady cam footage to capture the horses and the sleigh ride route through the fields and forests. By hook or by crook, we will deliver our winter show.”

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