CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Just like other companies, when the pandemic hit, Theatre Calgary had to adjust the way they do business.
When the calendar flipped closer to December and the current health crisis wasn’t showing signs of slowing down, the crew knew no matter what, the 34th annual production of “A Christmas Carol” must go on.
Artistic Director, Stafford Arima said they not only had to juggle with the change of no in-person performances, but they also had to follow public health guidelines.
“It was very important for me to figure out a way how that tradition of (A Christmas Carol) could still be maintained, even though it was most likely going to be a situation where we weren’t able to have audience members in the theatre,” Arima explained.
Calgary playwright, Geoffrey Simon Brown was tasked with the job from Arima and within due time, a new adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic was on paper with just three actors.
Bringing the world to Calgary’s stage
As the doors to the physical theatre closed, the doors to people’s homes opened.
With a three-week run starting on Dec. 11, more than 20,000 people viewed the live-to-tape production on their computers, televisions or handheld devices.
So happy we were able to keep our family tradition of watching “A Christmas Carol” alive safely from the comfort of our home. Thanks @TheatreCalgary for making this happen! #GreatJob #Tradition #Festive pic.twitter.com/yLD8Xz4t7r
— Tammy Thain (@ThainTammy) December 13, 2020
Arima said they had viewers in every province along with 26 U.S. states and various countries.
“(We had viewers from) 21 international countries, including Brazil, Japan, Finland, Switzerland, Iceland, the UK, Australia, Italy, I mean, (it was) unreal that a production born and bred and performed by Calgarians and brought to life at Theatre Calgary had this amazing reach.”
In a normal year, the show typically comes close to, if not selling out, which would be equivalent to an average of more than 12,000 tickets sold. For 2020, the boost in viewership really gave Amira a sense of excitement and he added it proves just how strong the power of social media is.
“Even just the fact that we had a few viewers in Monaco, I mean, Monaco? How would someone in Monaco know about, Theatre Calgary’s ‘A Christmas Carol’?. It kind of baffles the mind,” he said while adding there was also a rather large viewership in the state of California.
A Christmas Carol went global! Not only was the show seen by more than 20,000 people over the holidays, but we had viewers from across Canada, USA, Mexico, United Kingdom, Australia, Qatar, Japan, Kenya, and more! We truly thank you for your support!https://t.co/WOQhc1Zrd0 #yyc pic.twitter.com/EzmF3wYwKL
— Theatre Calgary (@TheatreCalgary) January 15, 2021
Digital offerings a potential new part of their vocabulary
Like many in the arts, Arima is hoping the stage will be able to open up sooner than later; however, he understands that’s going to take some time.
“As we move forward in 2021 there is a light at the end of the tunnel and sometimes that light feels that it’s 300 feet away. And sometimes the next week, it feels like it’s 200 feet away. And then sometimes, you feel it’s 1,000 feet away,” Arima said.
“Theatre companies across the world, and specifically our company Theatre Calgary, we’re going to have to continue to be spontaneous, and we’re going to have to continue to pivot.”
This includes the potential for more digital offerings, though Arima said it’s hard to know what will happen as the pandemic script continues to be written.