Western Canada Theatre introduces Pandemic Playhouse

WCT will continue creating theatre and performance through the pandemic

This year looks very different for Western Canada Theatre (WCT) as it does for many performing arts companies. WCT has moved from its usual programming of large-scale theatrical shows and will be hosting various performances by local community members and groups.

“What we came up with is the series of events we’re calling the Pandemic Playhouse. I started with the idea that this is theatre in very different circumstances,” James MacDonald, WCT artistic director and curator of Pandemic Playhouse said.

MacDonald added that the series itself “was also a really good example to expand the horizons of what theatre means. Theatre isn’t just plays on the stage, theatre is music, theatre is dance, theatre is a creative art. To present theatre in a lot of different, little forms is one of the things we’re most excited about. And whether it’s burlesque or improv or sketch comedy or music, there are all sorts of different possibilities.”

These are just some of the types of theatre that WCT will be hosting.

This will be the format for Western Canada Theatre for at least the next six months, but they will be monitoring the situation closely to see if any changes will need to be made.

Regarding the COVID-19 health crisis, MacDonald said “we’ve been trying to really be responsive to the current health situation so as things change and evolve over the next few months, it will change and evolve what we’re planning as well, but we do know that we’ll keep performances going whether it’s live or online or a combination of both, we’ll keep them going for the rest of the year.”

WCT has a few different programs lined up for the rest of the year and will have more coming in the new year. Coming up next will be their Halloween Variety Show, happening at the end of October.

“It’s a Halloween Variety show with classic radio plays and ghost stories, some ghost stories specific to the Kamloops community, maybe some songs and there’s so much good material around Halloween that we wanted to do something that was incorporating a few different elements to it,” MacDonald said.

There will still be opportunities for those interested in live in-person performances to have the opportunity to attend a WCT performance. They have plans to move forward for some shows to allow a small audience, in a safe socially distanced environment.

“They’ll actually all be in person with a small audience, with a reduced audience in the Pavillion. We’re being very safe and very cautious, we’re keeping our distance and that’s the parameters that we’ll work under here,” MacDonald said.

Many of WCT’s performances will be available for live streaming or viewing afterwards, but not every performance will have that capability.

In November, WCT will then be hosting their YKA Strong series, with performances by local Kamloops community members.

MacDonald said regarding the YKA Strong series, “this is almost like a fringe festival, it’s a festival of local performers doing all sorts of different things and like I say, there’s burlesque, there’s improv, there’s sketch comedy, there’s a couple of plays in there and there’s a few musical performances as well.”

WCT is thankful for the continued support of the Kamloops community, and hope that people continue to support them and the community itself.