By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
After a day of investigating the implications of the Alberta government’s perplexing new restrictions announced Tuesday afternoon, the Citadel Theatre has decided to postpone its upcoming live production of Mary’s Wedding: A Metis Love Story, which was to have opened Saturday.
Citing “the safety of our patrons, staff and artists,” the decision delays Tai Amy Grauman’s new adaptation of the Canadian classic by Stephen Massicotte, starring actor/playwright Grauman and Todd Houseman, which was slated to run through Dec. 20 on the Citadel’s Shoctor stage for audiences of 100, masked and distanced in the 681-seat house.
Theatre-goers will have noticed that live theatre, a leading Edmonton arts industry, is nowhere even mentioned in the “enhanced public measures document” that accompanied the Kenney administration announcement of a response to the COVID spike. Further clarification from the government, sought by Citadel, indicated that the theatre would fall under “auditoria and concert venues,” a category it apparently shares, oddly enough, with “banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, non-approved/licensed markets and community centres” on the government website.
To further the confusion, the other possibility, the category of “some entertainment and event services” which can remain open subject to 25 per cent occupancy, would have included the Citadel alongside movie theatres, museums and galleries, libraries, casinos, fitness centres and “indoor entertainment centres.” This was deemed by the government less applicable to the Citadel Theatre than “auditoria and concert venues,” which must be closed for at least three weeks.
The loss in ticket revenue for the run of Mary’s Wedding is “considerable,” says Citadel artistic director Daryl Cloran. Since it’s built, rehearsed, and ready to go on the Shoctor stage, the production will be filmed and available for streaming to audiences across the country Dec. 22. And “hopefully…” (Cloran’s new mantra) it will return to live performance for a run in January.
Which means that there are completely built sets prepped and ready for live action on stages in two of the city’s largest theatre venues, the Shoctor and the Maclab, both at the Citadel. The Garneau Block, which was shut down on March 12 after its final dress rehearsal, awaits a live run, too. The financial repercussions are, to say the least, dramatic.
Meanwhile, the Citadel production of A Brimful of Asha, which ran live to limited, distanced audiences in the Shoctor at the end of October, continues to be available in streamed form to Alberta audiences through Jan. 10. And the Citadel’s Christmas tradition will still be happening — but onscreen. A reimagined filmed version of David van Belle’s lavish adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which premiered last year, is available Dec. 15 to 31.
Tickets and further information for ticket-holders: citadeltheatre.com.