With ever-changing COVID-19 numbers and protocols around masking and proof of vaccine, it's remarkable that beloved Edmonton theatre company Teatro La Quindicina is bravely charging forward with a 2021 season. But it is, and this season is one unlike any other.
Though it's definitely not theatre as usual inside Teatro's digs at the Varscona Theatre, the company's resident playwright Stewart Lemoine and Teatro's Co-Artistic Producers Belinda Cornish and Andrew MacDonald-Smith have fashioned a season combining streaming and live components. Following gala openings, with reduced live audiences viewing the productions that have been filmed on stage and presented on the big screen, (stay with me) the season's first three offerings move online for audiences to enjoy at home through the fall season.
The season’s first streaming and live component, Lost Lemoine, offers seldom seen material - some recent, some decidedly not- from Lemoine's prodigious catalogue.
"The pandemic allowed a chance to go through years of work, updating and digitizing plays from decades past," said Lemoine of Lost Lemoine: Part One, which is a collection of six short plays in settings as diverse as a farmhouse porch, a Belgian drawing room, a meadow on the Plains of Hungary and a ghastly mansion in Jotunheim. "When Belinda and Andrew read through some of those short plays I'd written long ago, they said 'We gotta do these'.
The season’s second streaming and live component Lost Lemoine: A Second Round of Seconds is a highly original take on the concept of speed dating. Originally performed by The Novus Actors, the play features romantic fun with the usual hijinks and a ticking-down clock.
Lemoine says while no one has relished being sidelined because of the pandemic, he's excited about the learning curve provided by filming a stage production.
"We had small casts and two cameras filming what the actors do on stage--it should feel like a stage play to the audience," he said. The final streaming production is a new play. A Fit, Happy Life presents an unusually eventful morning in the career of a dedicated department store bed salesman. Mathew Hulshof portrays the earnest mattress expert Mike Brack, with Kristen Padayas returning to Teatro at full-tilt as a formidable array of customers. It's directed by Stewart Lemoine and Belinda Cornish.
"Filming allowed us to stop and let the actors change costume and bring their acting down to the size needed for camera," Lemoine said of the three hybrid productions available for online streaming until October 31. "Streaming theatre online isn't ideal, but having said that, we've already been able to reach audiences in Toronto and Montreal with these productions. Suddenly, we have a bit of outreach."
Acknowledging that first and foremost, Teatro is a live theatre company--often a little wacky, and always a lot of funny-- Lemoine said the final production this season, Fever-land, will go before actual people with actual bums in seats. "This year's Fringe showed that certainly some people are willing to come out."
"It's a play presented in genuine 3D, with living, breathing actors cavorting before your very eyes. Without a net!" he laughed. Fever-Land features April Banigan, Cathy Derkach, Garett Ross, and Andrew MacDonald-Smith. It's directed by Belinda Cornish with costumes by Leona Brausen.
Streaming show tickets and more season information can be found on the website at teatroq.com/season.