There is no denying that COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work and play. We are socially distanced now, which might make us feel like we are cut off from one another. It is therefore wonderful to discover new opportunities for us to connect and remain a part of each other’s lives. Theatre Orangeville is doing something unique to reach its beloved audiences. In lieu of live performances, the theatre has created a series of virtual productions. Now, you can experience world-class stage productions from your own home, in a way that is designed to reproduce an in-theatre experience.
We at York Durham Headwaters encourage you to take it one step further: book your tickets for a Theatre Orangeville virtual production, and spend the day beforehand visiting our local food vendors in YDH to make your very own gourmet meal. We can’t go out for dinner and a show at the moment, it’s true. But we can create our own drama and have a ton of fun doing it!
About virtual Theatre Orangeville
Theatre Orangeville’s virtual productions aim to capture the essence of what going to the theatre is like. They are not like YouTube videos, a click away whenever you want them. Instead, each production is a scheduled event that requires tickets, and encourages you to immerse yourself in a performance as though enjoying the theatre in person. Get dressed up! It’s a special event, after all.
The idea to create virtual performances came when staff and performers at Theatre Orangeville realized they hadn’t done anything new for over four months! Offering entertainment online was a big step toward guiding the company back to live performances, and a way to engage deprived audiences. “It’s a case of keeping the organization strong, healthy and creative until we can welcome people back into our beloved theatre,” says David Nairn, Artistic Director for Theatre Orangeville. “Of course, none of us know when that is going to happen, but we know it will. Coming to our theatre is a great experience. It is a beautiful building and an historical facility, and I think we do really good shows.”
If you enjoy this online experience, you’ll be pleased to learn that virtual performances will likely become a regular feature of Theatre Orangeville’s offerings, even beyond COVID-19. One reason is that many patrons have indicated they may never return to the theatre, even if there is a successful vaccine and a return to normalcy. “It might be their age, or their compromised health, or where they are in their lives,” David says. “A lot of those patrons have been with us since day one, so we need to keep them engaged as well. The online [performance], while it will never ever take the place of going to the theatre, will be a part of how we engage audiences as a result of the world having changed.”
Another, more exciting reason is how well the theatre’s virtual performances have been received. David and his staff are surprised to see that they are getting subscriptions from much farther away than originally anticipated. “Presenters and other theatres across the country are encouraging their patrons to, essentially, ‘Come to Orangeville,’” he says. “We have theatres in Manitoba and Nova Scotia that are directing people to little ole Theatre Orangeville in Dufferin County to join us for a show that will hopefully encourage them to want to come back to the theatre in person someday.”
The best part of virtual theatre is that, while we are all socially distancing, we can still connect with friends, family and loved ones online and experience a performance together. “That is what families are doing,” David finds. “I have a patron who was telling us last week that she has gifted a performance to her daughter and son. The son is up in Shelburne, but the daughter lives just outside of Winnipeg. They’ve figured out the time difference, and they are all going to sit down at the same time on the same day and watch the show together. Then afterwards, they will jump on Zoom while they have dinner, and sit and talk about the show.”
It is in these ways that Theatre Orangeville aims to make their virtual performances part of a full family event. So, get out of your sweats and PJs, and dress like you’re going out to the theatre. Make it a special occasion. And let us share some thoughts on how you can do that right here in YDH.
Plan your virtual at-home theatre night
Below are the virtual productions Theatre Orangeville is running currently. Click on the show title to be directed to the Theatre Orangeville website for tickets and more information.
North(519) Act 1 Festival: Broadway Bound – Jan 15 to 28, 2021
Please join Theatre Orangeville for this incredible show, one that features electrifying cabaret style musical theatre performed by some of the remarkably talented members of the Theatre Orangeville Youth Alumnae, many of whom are currently pursuing professional careers in the performing arts. See them now, before they discover the bright lights of the “other” Broadway!
North(519) Act 1 Festival: Brave New Works – Jan 29 to Feb 11, 2021
Created and performed by members of the Theatre Orangeville Youth Alumnae, this show captures the essence of what theatre is really all about. With no limits on inspiration, the work created by these emerging young local theatre artists may be bold, funny, raw, uncensored and heartbreakingly honest… know for sure that it will definitely captivate your imagination!
An Affair of the Heart – Feb 12 to 25, 2021
What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with those we love, than by spending a fun-filled evening together in your online theatre, an evening filled with glorious music, gales of laughter and unabashed romance! It’s the perfect Valentine’s date!
ScriptTease – Feb 26 to Mar 11, 2021
Wondering what exciting new plays or musicals your theatre company has in store for you? Join Theatre Orangeville for the first of what will become an ongoing series of readings of original works created just for you through their New Play Development process. Be among the very first to experience these incredible new works, all of which are destined for your stage.
With the date of your virtual theatre night confirmed, hop over to our virtual market. We have all of our favourite local food providers and artisans, organized by proximity to your location. Once you have entered your location, you can search by category to find the very best in fruits and veg, meat and dairy, bakery, pantry, alcohol and unique finds. Spend the day travelling York Durham Headwaters to pick up the perfect ingredients, and make a special meal to go with your special theatre night.
Not sure what to make? Check out our Ultimate Holiday Recipe Book for 2020. (P.S. These recipes are amazing anytime, not just over the holidays.)
Plan ahead and safely. Please check with all the businesses for hours of operation and protocols.
Story by Katherine Ryalen