On the stage at the St. Luke’s Players performance hall in Saanich sits a collection of set pieces, now rather dusty.
Midway through the production of I Never Sang for My Father, restrictions around gatherings related to COVID-19 forced the company to end the show’s spring run early. That was 10 months ago and things looked rather bleak at the time.
But the plucky community theatre group didn’t give up hope of being able to one day share their gifts for performing and love of creating. They held physically distanced theatre games events in Beacon Hill and Willows parks when restrictions loosened last summer, and in the fall, masked up and performed skits, songs, poems and other readings at a distance in a sanitized St. Luke’s Hall.
“What was most difficult for us was trying to keep our community together,” said Janine Longy, a longtime member who has acted, directed, done publicity and other volunteer functions for the troupe.
“People have been really missing theatre and we have so many people involved, from set builders and ticket takers to the people on and off stage.”
Also very aware of the audiences who love to attend community theatre productions, the St. Luke’s gang took to Zoom, starting with online script readings, and building up to perform a remote version of Firehoses and Family, an original play written and directed by Jo and Mitch Barnes.
St. Luke’s followed up on Zoom with the beloved Christmastime panto, doing Alice in Wonderland.
Other online activities for members and newcomers will be coming down the road, Longy said. The past year has shown her that people have a great deal of enthusiasm for theatre, even when typical formats aren’t available.
“What’s been really fun is that people who aren’t normally on stage have been able to participate,” she said. “Our goal is to be very inclusive. We just get the word out about events and whomever wants to participate is welcome.”
Watch for ticket information for Role Play at stlukesplayers.org in the coming weeks.