(Update: 10 June, 2020)
As strict health and safety measures continue to be enacted to combat COVID-19, we at Repercussion Theatre wish to issue the following update about our current projects, anticipated reopening, and works in development.
The government of Québec has issued statements regarding the gradual reopening of activities and practices, including cultural events and gatherings in public spaces (parks). While Repercussion Theatre supports efforts to safely increase engagement in social and artistic practices, we must be clear about the continued impossibility of producing a Shakespeare-in-the-Park tour in 2020. Governmental guidelines are clear – large gatherings are still prohibited, and activities are to be responsibly undertaken while maintaining two-meter physical distance between participants. As we tour, our audiences typically number in the hundreds during any given performance, and our actors, technicians, and volunteers are frequently in positions that necessitate close proximity. The very process of rehearsals, with a team of nine actors (as had been originally cast), two designers, two directors, three stage managers and multiple production personnel, is physically impossible in this current climate. To say nothing of the fact that our Shakespeare-in-the-Park team tours across several communities, crossing regions daily. The risks and potential ramifications that we would be asking employees and project partners to take on (as well as an exponential number of their loved ones) are simply not acceptable at this point.
The month-intensive SITP tour is, moreover, the product of a full year of planning and coordination; as COVID-19 appeared and proliferated, the difficult decision was made to postpone, then cancel this year’s production – it was not a decision made lightly, nor was it one that we anticipated would be called into question. The notion that Repercussion could move from a cancelled show, to a fully rehearsed and audience-ready production of the professional calibre we hold ourselves to (particularly in the three week period outlined by provincial leadership on June 1st) is unimaginable.
While Repercussion applauds the initiatives of creators and artists in pivoting towards digital modes of production and broadcasting, we also recognise that our Shakespeare-in-the-Park project is essentially about connection and community. We are privileged to present our productions in municipalities across Québec and into Ontario. One of the joys of our work is that our team has, in effect, thirty opening nights – each performance is a unique event for a host community that has welcomed us into their home territory. Migrating or translating Shakespeare-in-the-Park onto a digital platform (aside from being surprisingly expensive, complex and challenging) feels like it would be a disservice to our audience, and cheapen the production from a work of connection to a brief form of distraction.
Shakespeare-in-the-Park will return when we are able to move, and be moved, in the park.
“We believe in the power of the arts, and particularly in the capacity of theatre to bring people together to question, reflect and imagine new possibilities together. We believe our sacred role as artists is to provide connection, and we strive to do that each summer. It is particularly difficult for us to not be able to gather with our colleagues and our co-citizens right now, when it would feel good to share in some moving, thoughtful theatre. It is deeply frustrating that, in a time when so many are hurting, social distance is required. We are reflecting constantly about theatre’s role in the world, and communing with theatre-makers across the country to figure out how we as a sector survive this situation and emerge even stronger, so that we can serve our communities in meaningful ways again. But for now, for us, that means not putting on a summer show. This is uncharted territory for us all, and it will take time to navigate it thoughtfully. We feel it is more urgent to truly reflect and to carefully plan for the future than to rush to create a pale replacement of our summer show which would provide – what? Empty cultural calories. There is a strong desire to “get back to normal” I know. But our job as artists is, as always, to hold a mirror up to nature, and to encourage us all to reflect on what we see. To me it seems that, for better or worse, we are in a moment that is inviting us (even begging us) not to “return to normal” but to question what that “normal” was, and whether it was actually serving all of us…”
– Amanda Kellock, Artistic & Executive Director
Repercussion Theatre is still committed to rendering classical theatre accessible, and we are continuing to work on several projects — we are supporting the creation of two new plays by Canadian playwrights which will have public readings in the Winter, participating in the ongoing development of a new opera based on Much Ado About Nothing, collaborating with colleagues across the country in rethinking the ways in which we present Shakespeare, and planning to share a number of videos and virtual events over the next year. These undertakings will be shared with the public in due course, and in a manner that both befits the works, is meaningful to audiences, and safeguards the wellbeing of all stakeholders.
We thank you for your understanding and continued support.
– The Repercussion Team
(Update: 11 May, 2020)
In compliance with the Quebec government’s recent recommendations, and in light of the shut-down of all non-essential services, the Repercussion team has altered its daily operations. We are continuing to monitor the situation closely, and are considering the possible configurations of upcoming programming.
Our annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park tour (originally slated for July 16 – August 16) has been cancelled. The full cancellation notice may be read here.
The planned world premiere of Thy Woman’s Weeds (originally scheduled for May 20) has been postponed. Thy Woman’s Weeds will make its debut at such a time as is safe for both audiences and performers. Further information may be found here.
Moreover, the Repercussion team will be exclusively working from home until further notice. Please communicate with us via e-mail rather than phone; any general inquiries may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Updates will be posted as the situation evolves.
As Repercussion adapts to the profoundly altered arts landscape during this time of crisis, we humbly ask that you consider becoming a monthly donor, or making a charitable contribution.
Your valued patronage enables us to keep developing new works, kickstart theatre careers, and nurture strong community connections grounded by the arts.