Keeping the arts alive through the pandemic has forced many venues and organizations in Winnipeg to think outside the box.
It’s been more than six months since the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) closed its concert doors.
Now, the WSO is reopening its doors and kicking off the 2020-21 season with an evening of Beethoven and Bach.
Laura Lindeblom, production manager for the WSO, said they are eager to get back on stage. But, there will be some changes in order for the orchestra to adhere to public health guidelines.
To keep physical distancing measures in place, the audience can expect to see 40 musicians instead of 80.
“Now that they’re all two metres apart or more, there’s a huge challenge for them and a huge adjustment in terms of playing in an ensemble, and I was moved to tears at the sound of them playing again for the first time in months,” Lindeblom said.
Musicians can take off their masks once they are seated on stage, just like if someone was at their own desk in an office, otherwise masks are required.
Larry Desrochers, general director and CEO of the Manitoba Opera, said they have started offering dinner and online shows .
“It’s called ‘De Luca’s at Home.’ We partner with De Luca’s restaurant, the meals are all delivered to patrons’ homes, so we’ll share a meal,” he said.
Derochers added that for artists, not performing and connecting with an audience can take a toll.
“Performers love to perform,” he said.
“They love that interaction with the audience and it feeds their soul. So if you take that away from people who have that in their blood of course they miss and it’s hard for them.”
Andre Lewis, artistic director and CEO of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB), said the art form of ballet requires people to be together in order to create.
“As a composer, if you are creating a symphony, you can do it on your own. Eventually, you will need people to play the music, but you don’t need bodies around you in order to do it, where artists and choreographers and the like need people around in order to build their art form,” Lewis said.
But, despite the many challenges, the show will go on, said Thomas Morgan Jones, artistic director for Prairie Theatre Exchange. The theatre has a new play written by Indigenous playwright Yvette Nolan, which will be hitting an online platform on Oct. 29.
“She’s written this extraordinary play that’s really like a ceremony of what it means to begin to have people back to the theatre and come back to live spaces,” he said. “We never showed it to a live audience. It was filmed by a local film company.”
If there’s one thing Jones misses the most, it’s the collective commitment to the craft.
“Because time doesn’t repeat like those moments, those seconds minutes and hours won’t ever happen again and the fact that everyone has committed themselves to that time and place it’s like a contract we’ve all made with each other to it feel monumental. It feels sacred,” Jones said.