MEDIA RELEASE: 26 August 2021 – R0091
After 17 months, the live theatrical experience is slowly making its return — but not without challenges ahead, says Brock University theatre expert Karen Fricker.
“Amidst the adversity that live performing arts have been faced with through the pandemic, a wonderful thing has happened this summer: the return of live theatrical performance, because it has been able to be outside,” says the Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts (DART), who is an expert in theatre criticism, theatre theory and contemporary theatre.
The Shaw and Stratford Festivals, two of Ontario’s most celebrated repertory companies, have been staging performances outdoors under canopies with mandatory masks for audiences in addition to capacity limits in accordance with provincial guidance. Both festivals are taking audience, artist and staff safety seriously, with COVID-19 protocols in place, says Fricker.
Although these outdoor performances do not come close to hosting the usual number of spectators, Fricker says this is a “big step in the right direction.”
“Artists are being paid and creativity is happening,” she says, adding that while “innovative digital work has been heroic during the pandemic, experiencing live performances in a shared space is a joyous return.”
Brock’s Dramatic Arts Department engages with the Shaw Festival in numerous ways, including the annual DART/Shaw internship and course-based experiences with Shaw artists and arts workers. A number of DART students and graduates work at the festival in front of house, producing and administration, and creative capacities.
Seeing some of those familiar faces at Shaw this summer has been a particular highlight, Fricker says.
While outdoor performances are a step in the right direction, Fricker says there is still more work to do. There will be limited live, in-person programming in the performing arts sector this fall, mainly due to unclear guidance from the provincial government around reopening, she says. The performing arts industry successfully lobbied the government to address live performances in the official stages of reopening. However, “you can’t just lift a theatre production off in a few weeks; you need a runway,” Fricker says.
Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts Karen Fricker is available for media interviews.
For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-347-1970
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