Theatre By The Bay (TBTB) continues to look for new ways to engage their audience, even during the COVID-19 pandemic which has shut down live performances.
This past Friday, the Emerging Director Project Showcase went live on YouTube and was the culmination of a new program from the city’s theatre company which provided professional training to hopeful directors.
The two chosen directors were tutored by TBTB artistic director Iain Moggach and artist Leah Holder and then had to put together the plays in the world of COVID where only online performances can reach a crowd.
The two plays presented were The Key to Conspiracy by Lori McIntyre and directed by Korol Pikulik and Missing Links by Gordon Haney, which was directed by Valeria Bravo. The scripts were chosen from the catalogue of plays in the Theatre By The Bay’s Theatre Lab and then had to be rehearsed solely online.
Pikulik introduced her contribution and what the 2003 play was about.
“This show covers important topics such as mental health and ageism, but at its core, it is a show about empathy,” said Pikulik. “It's about how true empathy is selfless and has no want, no personal gain or no virtue of egoism.”
Five actors performed in The Key to Conspiracy and made do for the scenes that needed physical interaction.
Moggach told BarrieToday he knows that an online play can’t replace the live experience, but for now his company is making the best with what they have.
“I'd say that online is something we can now feasibly look into. We have the technology, we know how it works best, and the reaction was very positive,” said Moggach. “Can it replace the experience of live theatre? No. But can it supplement what we are doing and be another creative avenue? Absolutely.”
Director Bravo was up next and introduced Missing Links. The play centres around three brothers reuniting on a camping trip only to have a mystery unfold that brings up old wounds.
“I chose this script because I enjoyed the humour in it and the dynamic between the brothers,” said Bravo. “Back when I chose it, I had this image of the forest setting and how I’d create that on the stage. But with this change, I had to think, 'how I would make a forest on the internet in four different houses?'”
Bravo and her team used a starry-sky and forest background mixed with the image of the shadow of a flickering fire bouncing off the actors' faces. At one point, the scene called for one actor to poke the other in the face with a stick, which was done humorously since the actors were not in the same location physically.
Moggach told BarrieToday the reaction has been very positive from those who watched the Friday online performance and believes the new program will become a regular part of the theatre’s contribution to the city’s art landscape.
“It seems people were just really excited about the Emerging Director Project Showcase becoming part of our ecosystem,” said Moggach. “It addresses a really important need in our community which is more professional training opportunities. It also allows the Barrie Theatre Lab writers something they can work towards and another paid gig for local theatre actors, which is always great.”
You can still watch the showcase online here.