The Things I Miss the Most at the Theatre: A Pandemic Reflection

By Matthew Behrens, Associate Producer, Classic Theatre Festival July 4, 2020 It’s the first Saturday of July, and, as a creature of habit, I bolt out of bed, my mind ticking off an extensive checklist. It’s a three-show day in Perth, Ontario, so there’s lots to do. A rapid succession of questions speeds around my mind like particles in a semiconductor. I need to open the database and check the final audience numbers. Are any free seats available for latecomers? Is the concessions stand fully stocked? Do we have enough of the ever-popular ice cream sandwiches? Which summer student working front-of-house will be in the parking lot to welcome the senior bringing three boxloads of summer reading for our massive book sale? More questions. What does the weather radar show, as we have a full complement attending our outdoor historic walking play at 11 am? How are the numbers for Tuesday’s dinner theatre show? Is that group from Casselman on time to arrive at Michael’s Table for lunch? Are all the props needed for rehearsal lined up and ready to go? How early can I call the person who left her sweater in Row C at yesterday’s matinee? Call back Perth Manor to let them know we were able to find a seat for their guests at the Sunday matinee. Will I remember to bring a visiting actor that extra pillow they had requested? I sit by the phone (before 10 am, the box office number goes to our home to catch the early bird inquiries, and they often start coming in at 7:30 am!), as I anticipate waving to my partner, Artistic Producer and Director Laurel Smith, heading out for rehearsal for our second mainstage production. During such busy times, we are like ships passing in the night. But today, as I sit in front of the computer, stare at a silent phone, and wonder why I haven’t seen Laurel leave yet, a bolt of reality shuts down the superconductivity pinging in my brain. Right. Yes. It’s 2020. There’s a pandemic on, and live theatre with full houses is not taking place anywhere on the planet for the first time in centuries. Centuries. Think about that. While storytelling has been around since the beginning of our species, that unique quality of sharing tales in a certain physical space with other human beings is, during this time, too dangerous to risk undertaking. Like theatre companies around the globe, ours is going through a truly existential crisis amidst a larger context, where billions are suffering the fear and pain of something that could strike out of the blue, scientists are racing to find a Covid-19 vaccine, and animated discussions conclude that our collectively destructive way of life will continue to produce such crises unless we seriously change our ways. For those of us who work in the live arts, we face critical questions about how – and if – we can ever get back to gathering in enclosed, packed spaces to… Continue reading

A Difficult Decision: Postponing our Summer Season Until 2021

Dear Friends of the Classic Theatre Festival, It is with a sense of sad irony that our board of directors met via Skype on World Theatre Day – March 27 – and decided that, given the COVID-19 pandemic, we were left with no option but to postpone the 2020 season of the Classic Theatre Festival. While this is heartbreaking for all of us – the producers, directors, stage managers, designers, performers, technicians, summer students, volunteers, the billet hosts, and, of course, you, our wonderful guests – we believe that this is the safest decision, in light of the uncertainty of the current situation. As we stay home for the foreseeable future – and encourage you to do the same – we will cherish the wonderful memories of our first decade together in Perth. What began as our dream of running a summer theatre became a reality thanks to your loyal support and enthusiastic attendance. We are honoured to have you as part of the Classic Theatre Festival family. What this means going forward Since we have already invested significant resources into our 2020 shows – for casting, design, production, royalties – and also because we treasure the shows we had planned (Affairs of State, The Philanderer, and Sleuth), we have decided that the shows for 2020 will simply be moved ahead to the summer of 2021. By that time, we hope that the current crisis is a distant bad memory, yet one from which we have all learned important lessons about the need to care for one another on this fragile planet. If you already hold tickets for the 2020 season, here are your current options: 1. Transfer your tickets forward: we will honour any tickets purchased for 2020 in 2021. The same three shows planned for this summer – Affairs of State, The Philanderer, and Sleuth – will hit the boards in 2021. As always, we are flexible in allowing you to pick your dates and seats whenever you like. This option would be hugely helpful to us as we handle the cash flow challenges of operating without a full season. 2. Alternatively, if you don’t want to transfer your tickets – and you are able to do so – you can donate all or part of your 2020 season ticket purchase in return for a charitable tax receipt. This would greatly help us to offset some of the fixed costs we face whether the Festival is running or not. 3. You can receive a refund for your 2020 tickets. (Please note that the refund cannot include the $4 + HST ticketing fee that supports our box office outlet, Tickets Please). Simply email us at and copy and tell us how you would like to proceed, and we will handle things from our end. We recognize the unprecedented nature of the crisis we are facing, and hope that the promise of once again sharing the magic of live theatre and the wonderful stories that shape our lives… Continue reading