Live theatre is returning to Nanaimo.
In October the Nanaimo Theatre Group is staging a COVID-19-conscious production of the one-person show Every Brilliant Thing by English playwright Duncan Macmillan.
The play follows a protagonist who starts compiling a list of “brilliant” things that make life worth living after their depressed mother attempts suicide. Director Wendy Wearne describes the play as compassionate, humorous and timely.
“During COVID, when a lot of folks are facing uncertainty, it’s nice to have a piece that does give hope and suggests that we can look at things that individually make us happy,” she said.
Wearne said precautions are being put in place to adhere to coronavirus safety protocols, including disinfecting the Bailey Studio theatre, providing hand sanitizer to patrons, encouraging mask usage, performing contact tracing and reducing seating from 172 to 47, with tickets being sold in pairs and trios so guests can stay in their “bubbles.” In addition, the play is being double-cast and double-crewed.
“We actually rehearse them separately and they of course will perform separately.” Wearne said. “So at any point need somebody be replaced because they’re not feeling well, of if they’ve had some form of community exposure that they were unaware of, we can bring in the next crew.”
Rob Atkinson and David Bigelow will be playing the lead character on alternating nights. They said one-person shows have their challenges.
“In pretty much any show I’ve been in you usually get that little monologue where you get your moment on stage where you get to do your little thing, but it’s like a half a page or maybe a page,” Atkinson said. “And this is 60 pages of just you talking.”
The play is staged “in the round,” meaning that the audience will encircle the performer, with some seats on the stage. Although Every Brilliant Thing is a one-person show, audience members will be called upon to participate in certain ways.
“It’s almost like your acting partner is the audience, which is really different because normally in most shows the audience is a very separate entity. You’re aware of them but you don’t talk directly to them,” Bigelow said. “But in this show you do.”
Wearne said she and producer Wanda Badduke are both registered nurses have been “very front-and-centre for all of the COVID weirdness” and they are flexible when it comes to adapting to health standards. Wearne said they’ve been hard at work since the province moved into Stage 3 of its reopening plan.
“We just believe, like everywhere else, if there’s a possible plan for the arts and particularly for live performance to carry on in COVID land we should apply ourselves and put something forward…” she said, later adding, “It doesn’t feel right that in what might be our potential new normal there isn’t space for live theatre.”
WHAT’S ON … Nanaimo Theatre Group presents Every Brilliant Thing at the Bailey Studio, 2373 Rosstown Rd., from Oct. 14 to 31. Wednesday to Sunday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20, available at 250-758-7224. Production may be extended another week.