British Columbia

Arts Club Theatre Company raising the curtain and welcoming Vancouver audiences back this fall

Western Canada's largest theatre company has announced three one-person shows with limited audience numbers for the fall 2020 season, starting in September.

1-act shows starring 1 actor will take the stage starting in September

Ashlie Corcoran, artistic director of The Arts Club Theatre Company, says the one-person performances being staged from September to December will also be live streamed for theatre lovers who are still hesitant to come to venues. (Arts Club Theatre Company)

Western Canada's largest theatre company has announced it will stage new shows in Vancouver starting next month.

The Arts Club was forced to cancel 26 productions when the pandemic hit B.C. in the spring. Now, the plan is to usher limited audiences of 50 into two of the company's venues this fall to watch one-act, one-actor performances scheduled to begin in September.

The three solo shows that have been selected are No Child, about at-risk students at a high school in the BronxBuffoon about a young boy born into the circus and The Twelve Dates of Christmas about one woman's attempt to find love over the holidays.

"We know people are thirsting for communal experiences," said artistic director Ashlie Corcoran on The Early Edition Tuesday. "It's so exciting to actually be building and planning something."

300 unemployed artists

Corocoran said the pandemic has been devastating for the arts community, and under normal circumstances, the company would usually employ more than 300 artists over the next 18 months.

In order to put as many people as possible to work and to reduce the impact of potential infections on the performances, each show has been double-cast with two stars and each production has two complete crews.

This way, said Corcoran, if anyone suspects they are ill, the whole bubble they work with can be tested for COVID-19 and the other cast or crew can make sure the show goes on.

All performances will be staged at either the Newmont Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre or at the Arts Club's Granville Island Stage. Each theatre has space for over 300 people, but the audience will be capped at 50 and masks will be mandatory.

The shows will also be live streamed online for theatre lovers who are still hesitant to attend a performance in person.

Despite the plan for new plays, the company is bracing for financial hardship, as the majority of its funding comes from earned revenue such as ticket and bar sales. A wage subsidy from the government has helped keep staff on the payroll. For now.

"We are looking at a major, major deficit for next year," said Corcoran.

According to Corcoran, less than seven per cent of The Arts Club's funding comes from all three levels of government.

To hear the complete interview with Ashlie Corcoran, artistic director of The Arts Club on The Early Edition, tap the audio link below:

Artistic director Ashlie Corcoran speaks with Stephen Quinn about reopening safely. 8:13

With files from The Early Edition

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