Just six months ago the coronavirus pandemic arrived and began threatening The Eastern Townships of Quebec. All businesses were mandated to close their doors by the government by the morning of March 13. This closure included Theatre Lac Brome (TLB) in the village of Knowlton, forcing them to cancel their jam-packed calendar of107 shows, with various performers.

Olivia Enns, communications coordinator at TLB, said that, “the idea of closing for an undetermined period of time was very daunting considering the theatre is a business that heavily relies on donations to keep operations going.” Fortunately, the community answered their call for help and provided enough financial aid to keep the theatre afloat for another season.

The grand reopening

For the first time ever, TLB re-opened their doors on Sept.12 with an outdoor concert. The event consisted of a harpist accompanied by a cellist with approximately 100 people in attendance. The entire show was made possible with support from the government. Enns said one of the largest difficulties of re-opening was around “keeping peoples trust.”

“We are responsible. [The] hardest thing is making sure our clients know that we are a safe space. We do 110 per cent to make sure it is safe for everyone, especially since our clientele is older” noted Enns.

On a more positive note, COVID-19 allowed the theatre and all its employees to rethink their values; it has been a year of reflection.

“We learned more about what we stand for. We are more than just an arts institution, I hope,” said Enns.

Efforts to be responsible

In an effort to abide by government safety regulations, the theatre is implementing many new rules.

The most significant change is having to reduce the number of people allowed in the theatre. Capacity is “normally” 161 seats but now, with the new COVID-19 protocols, it is only a functioning with a third of the space, leaving just over 50 seats available in the theatre.

“Our number one priority is to keep everyone safe,” said Enns.

Patrons will be seated with their bubble and one to two seats will be left empty between bubbles to allow for adequate social distancing. The front row will also be completely empty and the performers are being asked to only use the back half of the stage. Mask wearing is also gently enforced when walking around the facility but masks may be removed once seated for the duration of the show.

Future plans?  

Although the 2020 theatre season was cut short, the 2021 season is “looking bright” Enns said. Unfortunately, none of the cancelled performances of the 2020 season were rescheduled because the logistics were too hectic. There are three shows remaining this year, followed by the 2021 season that is scheduled to begin in either March or April. There are already over 100 performances tentatively scheduled.

To learn more about Theatre Lac Brome, or to buy tickets to an upcoming show, visit https://theatrelacbrome.ca.

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