With entertainment put on hold throughout the pandemic, Theatre Lac-Brome is slowly beginning to welcome back audiences. While the theatre was forced to put larger theatrical productions on hold during the pandemic, it has been organizing events to take place throughout the summer to keep Townshippers on their toes, such as film screenings and musical performances, and the group is only just getting started.
“On June 10, 14, and 15 we did our first children’s theatre festival. I had been in touch with both elementary schools and had all of their classes come in. There were 425 students over three days, five shows, and three theatre companies. They were all socially-distanced since their classes are in their own bubbles,” said Ellen David, executive artistic director of Theatre Lac-Brome.
Three theatre groups, Les Foutoukours, who presented a circus show called Brotipo, Le théâtre de la pire espece, who presented Léon le nul, and Le gros orteil, who presented The Librarian and Le Bibliothécaire, were thrilled to be back on stage performing live and made the group’s first children’s festival a success. “We’ve had some kids theatre shows, but we have never done a festival over a few days entertaining all the kids from both schools fully. We are going to make it a tradition. We got beautiful feedback and testimonials from the schools.”
In July, TLB welcomed musical group Tennessee Two, performing Johnny Cash and Friends, then its unique La Dolca Vita soirée fundraising event, inspired by a film presentation of The Chain, originally a play, about an Italian family. “It was originally done at Centaur in 1988 and a couple a years ago, it was resurrected at McGill, but because of the pandemic, it couldn’t follow through with its next series of plays. They decided to film it over a period of nine days. Barry Lorenzetti, the director, was generous enough to supply us the film. They provided food boxes, wine and cocktails.”
Various local painters, such as Susan Pepler, Ursula Kofahl Lampron, and Michel Gamache, contributed to the soirée by participating in a gallery at the Theatre. “They agreed to donate a portion of the sales from their pieces, to Theatre Lac-Brome.”
The group will continue its lineup of events for August with various artists coming in to provide musical performances, such as the The Best of Barbra, performed by Cherylyn Toca (La Voix) and musicaldirector/arranger/pianist Nick Burgess.
“We will have a dance party some time in August and we also hope to offer some Sunday brunches, coffee, croissants with music or monologues that we would produce ourselves. So, stuff is rolling out slowly. The bigger pieces, we will have to wait so that we will be able to make sure we can bring in enough people in to make it worthwhile.”
Coming to Theatre Lac-Brome in 2019, Davis had filled the 2020 calendar with special events for the community that she hopes will soon see the light of day. “We had multiple shows in English that we produced, musical events of all genres, kids’ shows, and the Knowlton Players were coming in for three shows, as well as artists exhibiting every month in our gallery,” explained Davis. “I was pushing it to this year but some of these shows are quite expensive for us to produce, we have to build them for scratch. One show I had planned for last season is on hold until 2022.”
Davis said it can take from six months up to a year to organize a theatrical production and while they have a large space, safety concerns restrict the size of the audience. “We have a 161-seat theatre but with current guidelines, we are only comfortable to put 80 people in those seats. The difference with the kids is that each class is a bubble, but it’s different with adults because they are all coming from separate places.”
Theatre Lac-Brome has taken this period to focus on rebuilding its volunteer base and organizing its spaces at the theatre. “It’s been a busy time and when things open up we will be ready to welcome the public. It takes time for us to get up and running so we want to do it well and make sure people are safe at the same time. It’s a labor of love to get this back on track.”
TLB has also been working on a cultural outreach project that centered around workshops within the community. “We received a grant from Heritage Canada for a community cultural outreach program. I formed disciplines in various areas: choir, dramatic writing, visual arts and sculpture, and photography. We had workshops beginning in May in all of these disciplines that will be included in our heritage presentation in October or November. The theatre is 35-years-old and we will honour its history, respect the past, and build the future with this project.”
Despite the hiatus from major productions, the public will get to see some live theatre from the group in the upcoming months. “Labor Day weekend, the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before Labor Day, we have a very exciting piece of theatre and a show that people will respond to. It’s very funny. I can’t announce it yet but people should stay tuned because it will come shortly. We will try to bring some English theatre for October. Theatre been more challenging, but this piece will happen Labor Day weekend.”
All of the upcoming events will be up on the Theatre Lac-Brome website https://theatrelacbrome.ca and or in its newsletter which can be received by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or (450) 242-2270.