London

The Grand Reopening: London's Grand Theatre lays out 2021-2022 plan

After nearly a year and a half of not being able to open its doors, London's Grand Theatre is gearing up for a comeback for its 2021-2022 season. 

Theatre season to allow for a gradual reopening

From concerts to art installations and new plays, to full-blown theatre performances as we know them, the season promises to be a celebration — all against the backdrop of a $9-million renovation project, said the theatre's artistic director Dennis Garnhum.  (Colin Butler/CBC)

After nearly a year-and-a-half of not being able to open its doors, London's Grand Theatre is gearing up for a comeback for its 2021-2022 season. 

From concerts to art installations and new plays, to full-blown theatre performances as we know them, the season promises to be a celebration — all against the backdrop of a $9-million renovation project, said the theatre's artistic director Dennis Garnhum. 

"I think every night will be a celebration because everyone will appreciate and not take for granted what it means to be together with each other," said Garnhum. "I think you're really going to feel the joy of going on occasion with other human beings."

While the details of what reopening will actually look like when the season kicks off in the fall are still pending provincial direction, Garnhum said the theatre will meet public heath guidelines and will at least start the season with a physically-distanced audience.

The theatre will also be taking cues from colleagues across North America on best practices and have planned their season for a gradual reopening.  

"What's going to happen next season is not your typical season. It's going to be a season that starts very small, attendance-wise, and very safely crafted," Garnhum said, adding their reopening plan is flexible to ensure the show can go on even if venues open up slowly.  

A new project titled the Grand Re:Opening Festival will launch the season in October. It will allow four local artists with different artistic backgrounds to create multi-layered events for four nights each. Throughout the series of special events, each artist will make use of the different spaces throughout the venue, from the theatre's stages to its renovated lobby. 

"We thought a lot about how do we want to come back," Garnhum said. "We've been really listening to the world and this idea of anti-oppression and where as the Grand can we do better, how we can we be more welcoming to all ... So we've asked for local London artists to create things that are relevant and exciting to them."

Grand Theatre's 2021-2022 Season

  • Grand Re: Opening Festival, October 2021 - Featuring London artists Summer Bressette, Richard Gracious, Alexandra Kane and Mark Uhre.
  • Home for the Holidays, December 2021 - A special holiday production created and directed by Dennis Garnhum.
  • Room, January 2022 - The much anticipated return of Room by Emma Donoghue that never saw its official open in March of 2020. 
  • Controlled Damage, February 2022 - A play from award-winning playwright and Londoner Andrea Scott.
  • Rubaboo: Songs and Stories with Andrea Menard, February, 2022.​​​​ 
  • Grow, 2022. - Originally set to premier in April 2020. Grow was days away from its first rehearsal when the production was halted.
  • Jeans 'n Classics series, February, March and May 2022.​​​​​
  • The Great Grand Road Trip - presented by the 2021 High School Project 

Despite the ongoing pandemic's impact on live theatre, Garnhum said people will always feel the need to get in a room and tell stories and he hopes the Grand can give the community that space to do so. 

"We're excited to go back to the Grand, to sit in the dark, to hear people pretend so others can understand the world just a little bit better or take a break from the world just a little bit. That's the power of the theatre," he said.

The theatre will not be putting tickets for the upcoming season on sale until they receive clear direction on capacity levels and safety guidelines. Those with credits on their account will be provided with first opportunities when tickets become available. 

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