Theatres Stay Busy While Shut Down – So They’re Ready to Entertain You

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ShadowBox TheatreSince March 2020, when theatres and other live performance venues were forced to close to the public because of the COVID pandemic, there hasn’t been a lot of live entertainment in our region. Sure, Windsor Feminist Theatre held some small outdoor performances in the summer. And when venues were allowed to reopen for three months I the fall, Rob Tymec performed one-man shows at various locations, and Post Productions produced Fatboy and The Beauty Queen of Leenane to sold-out houses at a limited capacity. But that’s not much considering that on most weekends in the Before Times there was more to see on any given weekend than anyone could possibly see.

So it might seem like the many venues and twenty-plus theatre companies must be sitting around aimlessly twiddling their thumbs these days. But oh, gentle readers, that simply isn’t so. Like ducks on a pond, theatre companies may appear inactive only because you can’t see our webbed feet furiously paddling beneath the surface.

At Post Productions, for instance, we have a full season of five productions planned for 2021, beginning with Windsor-based playwright Matt St. Amand’s Negatunity, which will open (COVID willing) on April 9th at The Shadowbox Theatre. Then David Mamet’s Glengarry Glenn Ross in June, George F. Walker’s Criminal Genius in July, Sarah Kane’s Blasted in October, and John Gavey’s Dead Bear in late November. Plus, we have our annual Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest, which will be judged from April until July, and several new ventures and collaborations we’re planning with others – including a live Windsor-based game show. And we’re hosting Windsor Feminist Theatre’s Dominatrix on Trial at The Shadowbox Theatre in April and May.

So: even when we aren’t producing live entertainment, there’s a lot of work involved to make sure we can provide audiences with live entertainment as soon as we’re allowed to do so – and to make sure we can do it safely.

Each play produced by Post Productions requires anywhere from six months to two years of planning before we even start rehearsals with the cast. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work necessary to create an engaging experience and get the word out so people know what we’re offering them. Scripts need to be analyzed and plans need to be developed by the director and producers of each show. What’s this story about, and how should we convey that? How should this story feel? What should it look and sound like? Sets and props need to be designed and built and painted. Other props and set pieces need to be sourced, then either borrowed or bought. Auditions need to be planned and scheduled. Crew members need to be hired. Schedules for each production’s rehearsals and build times need t be created and coordinated so they don’t interfere with each other. Promotional campaigns need to be developed, advertising material created, press releases and articles written, posters and programs designed. Potential sponsors and advertisers need to be contacted. There’s endless paperwork, email, and discussion involved at each step. And that’s just s taste.

The COVID pandemic has created an opportunity to get a lot of this work done while we aren’t distracted by, well, staging performances and selling tickets. Many theatre companies are using this time as productively as they can with one goal in mind: making sure we’re prepared to deliver great experiences for audiences hungry for live entertainment.

At The Shadowbox Theatre, we’ve also been busy doing a deep clean and reorganization of the venue. When we were open last fall, all of the public areas in the theatre were thoroughly and regularly cleaned and disinfected. But the backstage area, storage room, green room, box office – these were clean but kind of in disarray. No, let’s be honest: they were chaotic.

As cast and crew members come and go across a season, order becomes disorder. Garbage accumulates in odd places you don’t notice when you’re cleaning – no matter how many trash cans there are. Storage areas resemble the twisted piles of debris left behind by a tornado. It’s just the way it is, like cleaning up after a large party. If you had 25 of these parties every month.

So when the theatre reopens, it will be a much more orderly space for casts and crews. The audience won’t notice, though they might see the extra skip in our step as we enjoy being able to find the things we’re looking for.

All of us, from all the regional theatre companies, can’t wait to see you the audience again. Know that we’ve been hard at work getting shows ready for you. Know that we’re also working with local health authorities to ensure that when we re-open, we’re doing our best to protect your health and safety. And know, too, that this long and terrible pandemic has made us appreciate your support more than ever.

To keep up-to-date with shows from Post Productions, check out their website: postproductionswindsor.ca

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