Pandemic Playhouse presents the ‘YKA Strong’ series.

WCT has teamed up with performers to create a month-long fringe festival

Western Canada Theatre is not letting the COVID-19 pandemic slow down their ability to produce theatre in the Kamloops community. In August, WCT called out for submissions for a new initiative known as the YKA Strong series.

Since then, WCT has chosen 12 different performance groups from the Kamloops community to utilize the Pavillion Theatre and Western Canada Theatre’s support to create art during the COVID-19 pandemic. These performances will all be live and comply with COVID-19 safety measures.

Ashley Hiibner is one of the many community members engaging in the YKA Strong series and has been working with her fellow theatre crew to produce a show titled “Tonight’s the Night with Zorblax, Destroyer of Worlds.”

Ashley Hiibner, the main puppeteer of Zorblax and co-creator of the show, said, “it’s a late-night comedy talk show similar to Jimmy Fallon.”

Hiibner added that the show’s concept is “it’s hosted by an alien named Zorblax, and he’s from the planet ‘Mononopolis’ and his main goal is to try and understand earth culture, earth art, earthlings and he just doesn’t get it at all.”

It isn’t the first time Hiibner and her group have produced the show. In May of 2018, the collective created the show for Hydra Festival, a fringe festival in the Kamloops area.

Hiibner said, “we were supposed to bring back Zorblax for Hydra [festival] this year. Obviously, that didn’t happen because that was pretty much at the height of lockdown.” 

Now that the group is working under new restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hiibner and her crew have had to make some adjustments to the show.

“[It’s] kind of been fun in a way because it’s been a good chance to try and think out of the box and think what can we do from six feet that’s still funny, and there’s been a challenge in that,” Hiibner added.

Since the collective had already produced the show before, it was easy to revive it for the YKA Strong series. Hiibner said it had been great working with WCT to help produce the show again.

Hiibner said, “they were calling for local artists, fringe style theatre that was kind of already put together that just needed a venue, and they were willing to supply a venue.” 

Hiibner also added that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been tricky to prepare the show for the series. “It’s hard to plan an event like this when you don’t know if we’re going back into lockdown tomorrow or not. But we’ve kind of just had to proceed as if the show is going to happen in three days … we’re controlling what we can and dealing with what we can’t.”

“Tonight’s the Night with Zorblax, Destroyer of Worlds” had their first performance on Friday, Nov. 6, and still has two more performances on the 13th and 27th of this month at 9:45 pm. Each show will feature a different guest, but this is only one of 11 other shows featured over Nov. Anyone interested in the shows being offered in the YKA Strong series can check out WCT’s website for all the show listings.

The series will be live on stage for audiences of up to 45 people to watch at the Pavillion Theatre. Groups of up to six people are welcome to purchase tickets, and they will be seated in cabaret style, with groups physically distanced from others at their table. Tickets are 25 dollars each and available online at the Kamloops Live! Box Office or by phone at 250-374-5483.

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