PEI

Masks yes, mingling no: How the Confed Centre is adapting its holiday shows

Performances at the Confederation Centre of the Arts will look different this holiday season. For one thing, patrons will enter through the upper plaza and head right to their seats.

Only 300 allowed inside for each performance due to COVID-19 spacing rules

Joy Gallant, manager of guest services, says audience members will have to wear a mask throughout the show. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Performances at the Confederation Centre of the Arts will look different this holiday season.

Patrons will enter through the upper plaza and head right to their seats — without mingling in the lobby.

"I think that's probably the biggest challenge for everyone when they come to the theatre," said Joy Gallant, manager of guest services. "Normally before, when you came down the stairs… lots of times there might be 1,000 people in the lobby."

The theatre normally seats 1,100, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, it can now accommodate only 300 for a single show. A maximum of four people can sit together.

Patrons will not be permitted to mingle in the lobby. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

The reduced capacity of course means reduced revenue. Artistic director Adam Brazier said some larger productions need at least 500 people to pay for themselves.

"That was the first shift for me, realizing what we can now afford to do on the stage has completely changed," he said.

Masks mandatory inside

Masks will be mandatory for everyone inside — except the actors on stage. 

As well, some productions will be livestreamed.

"This is a whole new world for us as theatre makers," Brazier said. "We're in the world of congregating people into one room to share a story and now we're learning how to continue to do that, but also [with] this added element of saying, 'Now the people at home can have an experience as well.'"

Patrons will enter through the courtyard, instead of the regular entrance off Queen Street. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

The temporary closing of the Atlantic bubble has provided another challenge for the theatre. 

Staff are worried about whether the artists and actors who were supposed to arrive in Charlottetown from elsewhere in the Atlantic will still be able to come when they need to. 

Staff said they've started thinking about what options they have if the bubble remains closed — whether they will bring actors in two weeks early to quarantine, or make big changes to the productions.

They said much will depend on how things unfold in the coming days. 

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Travis Kingdon

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