Lethbridge Theatre troupes adapt to a post Covid world


It is said that William Shakespeare wrote some of his greatest works including King Lear in the middle of a plague. As Covid 19 shut down most live entertainment for the year, local theatre troupes have explored the depths of their imaginations to cope with a crazy year in 2020.

Cole Fetting  performs in Shakespeare in the Park’s Merry Wives of Windsor. Photo by Richard Amery
 Theatres were among the venues forced to close due to Covid. So they found other ways to get their art to their audience, mostly going the online route.

New West Theatre’s popular December holiday show is a huge part of a lot of Lethbians’ holiday celebration. Not being able to have live shows, the  talented cast recorded videos of themselves performing Christmas classics, which they released during the holiday season. They utilized their own radio station 90.7 f.m. to broadcast a quick three song soundtrack to accompany a beautiful new light show at the Yates Theatre.

 Perhaps taking a cue from country star Gord Bamford, they turned their annual August production into an outdoor  “Live at the Drive in” show. Audiences could watch their variety show of ’50s and ’60s jukebox hits from their comfort of their vehicles while listening to the music on the radio. In July, they performed classic radio plays including Alfred Hitchcock’s “39 Steps, ”  Sherlock Holmes’ “Murder at the Casbah,”  “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and two episodes of Flash Gordon.

Their March production of Dear Johnny Deere, inspired by the music of Fred Eaglesmith was really well done, but they had to cancel their last few shows due to Covid restrictions imposed in March.

 Jay Whitehead was a busy man this year with Theatre Outré and the University of Lethbridge. Theatre Outré had a couple of different strategies to get their art out to the community by personalizing “Confessional.” The  audience members opted to book times to get a personalized show from the cast and crew as they explored the seven deadly sins in a well done and freaky, spooky experience just in time for Halloween.

Local improv troupe Impromptu went oTrevor Loman, Megan Fennell and Cole Fetting rehearse for playgoers of lethbridge’s production of Daisy. Photo by Richard Amerynline for their shows including their improvised soap opera the Gommorrah Love boat. They also turned their popular monthly Drunk Improv show into an online feature with the individual cast members improvising with each other from their individual homes.
 The University of Lethbridge did their first online main stage production “Identuality,” an exploration of identity in mid-November. The devised theatre production meant the cast created their own parts and broadcasted  them from their homes.

 The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society did both live and online presentations of John Poulsen’s reader’s theatre version of the Merry Wives of Windsor. As things improved, they were also able to perform a socially distanced live reader’s theatre of the show at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens.

 They were also supposed to perform Shakespeare Meets Dickens at the Nikka Yuko, but that got cancelled as restrictions returned.

 Playgoers of Lethbridge cancelled their fall production as well as the 2020 One Act Play Festival. But luckily they were able complete their February run of their exceptional production of Sean Devine’s 2017 production of Daisy,  and exploration of politics, advertising, propaganda and media before everything got shut down.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 January 2021 14:00 )