Theatre Ontario cancels festival in wake of a tsunami of pandemic closures


GORE BAY – Theatre and other live artistic and sports events are taking quite a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures being taken to limit the speed of its spread across the nation. The Gore Bay Theatre troupe’s cast and crew have had their wings clipped just as they were about to soar onto the Theatre Ontario Festival stage with their QUONTA dominating production of ‘Molly Sweeney.’

“In consultation with Sault Theatre Workshop (this year’s Theatre Ontario Festival hosts) and with the other regions, we have made the decision to cancel the coming festival,” announced QUONTA region president Andrea Emmerton. “We feel that it is necessary to be proactive during this difficult time. The decision has not been made lightly, but the health and safety of our participants and the audiences is of the utmost importance.”

Ms. Emmerton noted that any prepaid ticketholders should contact Sandra Huston at 705-946-4081 for refunds.

“While this is very disappointing, we didn’t have much choice,” said Ms. Emmerton, “I would like to thank Randi Houston-Jones and her committee for their months of hard work in getting us this far.”

The cancellation is particularly unfortunate given that it is very likely this will be the last year that a Theatre Ontario Festival will take place, at least in the current format. Due to funding cutbacks Theatre Ontario’s board voted earlier this year to disband the organization.

“We are very disappointed,” said Ms. Emmerton, donning her Gore Bay Theatre co-director hat. “I for one really want to be able to share it with a wider audience. It is such an amazing show. But, of course, we are doing the right thing in keeping people safe.”

As for the summer theatre season, things are currently somewhat up in the air and dependent on how the COVID-19 pandemic plays out. The state of emergency declaration in Ontario currently precludes the opening of theatres. Hopefully, things will have stabilized long before the summer theatre season gets underway.

Ms. Emmerton shared a quote from famed Canadian playwright Chris Richards: “We are the theatre and we are survivors (and thrivers).”