Theatre-lovers everywhere are mourning the days of live performances with sold-out venues, elaborate production designs, and most importantly, a sense of collective belonging. COVID-19 has caused major disruptions for McGill’s theatre community, especially since Montreal moved into its Red Zone earlier this month.
Understandably, theatre clubs at McGill have struggled to adapt to the new restrictions. The Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society (AUTS) announced on Facebook on Sept. 22 that this year’s intended production of A Chorus Line would be cancelled. While many clubs initially planned to rehearse and perform in person, these plans have since been derailed. Despite the setbacks, some clubs at McGill are taking innovative approaches to reimaging theatre during a pandemic.
Basile Guichard, U2 Arts and production manager at Players’ Theatre McGill, spoke with The McGill Tribune about how the club has altered their plans as restrictions have intensified throughout the semester.
“[Originally] we were thinking of having an outdoor show on the McGill campus, because events were allowed before the red zone,” Guichard said. “Then we thought that filming it would be a better idea, but obviously that’s not possible anymore with the very strict restrictions.”
Guichard explained that despite the various obstacles, the club’s directors and cast members have been willing to adapt to the ever evolving changes in order to put on a show. Even though the executive team prefaced every audition by telling the applicants that there was a chance that the show could be cancelled at any moment, many applicants still wanted to start the production process.
Since the province announced the new restrictions in place for Red Zone, Players’ Theatre has taken a new approach to producing its October shows This is a Play and Life is a Dream. One show will be a live play on Zoom and the other will be a radio play with visual imagery.
Despite the altered formats of their upcoming programming, Guichard said that the resolve of club executives and members is strong and that students are still eager to produce shows.
“There’s definitely a drive still present,” Guichard said. “I know from talking to other execs from other theatre clubs at McGill […] that every single team has some people who are still interested in creating and collaborating and growing together.”
Players’ Theatre hopes to keep the momentum going for next semester as they plan for the annual McGill Drama Festival (MDF) which features student-written, produced, and performed one-act plays. Though Players’ is uncertain as to what shape MDF will take during the Winter 2021 semester, Guichard feels hopeful that the greater community will still support student theatre on campus.
“People are definitely willing to show up and put in the work despite everything,” Guichard said. “People are still showing a lot of interest [.…] It’s a good break for living in the pandemic world or going to school online.”
Life is a Dream and This is a Play will be premiering on October 29th, 30th, and 31st.