Penticton theatre group looking for new ways to act out - InfoNews

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Penticton theatre group looking for new ways to act out

A scene from a Many Hats Theatre Company production prior to the troupe having to shut down due to COVID-19. The theatre group recently sent out a questionaire to its audience in an effort to find new ways to perform under COVID-19 restrictions.
Image Credit: Facebook / Many Hats Theatre Company
September 10, 2020 - 8:30 PM

What can a community based theatre company do when a pandemic prevents them from having an audience to perform in front of?

It’s a big problem for many small live theatre groups, including Penticton’s Many Hats Theatre. Publicist Ed Schneider says the company has been shut down since February, just before the opening of their 62nd show, and participants want to get back to the stage.

“We’re going nuts and we want to do something,” he says.

Many Hats' biggest issue is a lack of space. Schneider says other theatres, such as the Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver, has enough seating capacity they are able to reduce their audience to maintain social distancing and still have audience numbers sufficient to perform in front of.

Schneider says Many Hats would have a difficult time doing that in their venue, with a maximum seating capacity of 50 persons, including actors and theatre crew.

He says the troupe is struggling with that, and unsure yet whether they can find a way to make that work.

Many Hats recently put together a questionnaire for its followers as part of their ongoing efforts to come up with innovative ways to practise their art.

The questionnaire attempts to find out what steps might need to be taken to make theatre patrons feel safe attending a show, in addition to what the ceiling might be for tickets prices under reduced capacity requirements.

Many Hats Theatre is also asking its patrons about their interest in online or livestream productions for a nominal fee.

Schneider says response to the questionnaire has been very positive, with virtually all respondents saying they missed the live performance and hope the troupe can "figure something out."

Schneider says most people said they would feel comfortable coming back if the theatre could open under the province’s COVID-19 edicts.

“We don’t have anything on the go right now, but lots of possibilities. There probably won’t be any season until February at the earliest,” he says.


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