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Theatre Orangeville’s transition to online plays

February 26, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Next up for the remarkable series Theatre Orangeville Online has been presenting since September, 2020, is Laneway Café, by Marni Walsh, starring Jane Spence and Jeff Wetsch. It opens February 26 and runs until March 11.

It is the transitional phase for the theatre’s programming. 

“This will be the first play we’ve presented since September,” said David Nairn, Artistic Director. 

The play will be released, again as an online link for purchase, under Stream Yard.

It’s a romantic comedy. Two neighbours meet across their back-alley way. How does one establish new friendship? The journey is an interesting one: in this time of masks and distancing, how does one meet new people? They meet in the alleyway and the whole play takes place in that alleyway.
“Laneway Café,” continued Mr. Nairn, “at this time, this is a transitional piece, for when we are moving on to three new plays through the spring.”

Up to now, the shows have really been “another thing online.” In spite of how wonderful they were, so much time is spent online, people also want to watch television, as though that is where “entertainment” is.

“We need to get people to treat it as an entertainment. That is a huge distinction,” He said, “We need to get people to transfer the links to their television by an extremely clear method. People will get the link from us and they can transfer it to their television.”

These one-act plays will be rehearsed at the Rehearsal Hall with complete protocol: “We’re doing plays again albeit in a virtual world.” Very exciting that is.

So, what’s the difference with Laneway Café? 

This is going to be an explanation of how a play is put together; to see the behind the scene process from an actor’s, a playwright’s, point of view. It’s part of a strategy. This is the only way the experience can be shared, a unique way to workshop a play for an audience. 

He elucidated, “Our audiences want the ‘skinny’ – the way things go really – stop and talk. You’re not going to see this kind of experience from anybody else.” 

Once again, Nicolas Mustapha is part of the show, playing improvised jazz moments between scenes. 

Mr. Nairn remarked, “The energy that Jane and Jeff were putting out to Nick and Nick was giving back is tremendous.”

Still, there is more.

During plays in the theatre [pre-Covid], there is a schedule for talk-backs when the audience remains in the theatre and ask questions of the cast and crew about the play. 

Transition to online, and David Nairn explained, “This time, the audience can enter into real live questions; enter into a chat room for live conversations. As a component with our audience, people can be active in the development of the show, can actually be interactive. An audience involved in that moment to share those thoughts in real time. This is to show our audiences the process of bringing the play to the finished product in the theatre.”

“Since the beginning of September, we have done nine shows,” he declared, “plus a very successful fundraiser. The play will be a real play in the theatre.”

For the Q & A, are specific times for live conversation about the experience of watching the workshop. 

“By real time on email or by Zoom, showing your face and theirs: jot your questions down for these times. This is unique in the way it’s being delivered and it’s free, not another $20. Send a link for a Zoom link and we’ll be alive for a discussion. Having learned from doing this, we’ll continue with the upcoming plays. For now, this is the way forward. 

“I do not want to lose my people and I don’t want to lose my audience,” he commented. “CPOS is running again and our school tours [with]TYA. Teachers are lining up for this content.”

Determined: “We’re keeping it going to make art, paying artists. Giving them a showcase to create and we’re paying them so they feel like whole artists again.”

For virtual tickets go to Or call the Box Office at 519-942-3423.

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