Through the Looking Glass: Experimental theatre in a COVID-19 world

On March 27, to celebrate World Theatre Day, Globe Theatre was scheduled to introduce their new event where performers will be performing in different storefronts around Regina’s downtown area. Photo by Andrew Benson.

Regina residents were supposed to be treated to a new and unique type of theatrical performance on March 27, 2021. The Globe Theatre in Regina was set to present Through the Looking Glass to celebrate World Theatre Day which occurs every year on March 27, but had to postpone until further notice to comply with Public Health Orders.

Through the Looking Glass is a mix of theatrical performances and experiments that utilize unoccupied downtown storefronts. Twenty-five artists are part of the performance, all scattered around the Cornwall Centre, Globe Theatre’s windows and other locations around Scarth Street.

Holly Gilroy, an artist performing in the corner windows of the Globe Theatre, partnered with one of the Globe Theatre’s artistic associates, Sierra Haynes, to create a unique performance.

“Sierra reached out to me and asked if I wanted to collaborate with her on her project and obviously, I said yes,” Gilroy said with a laugh. “Sierra has a lot of experience with theatre and radio, and I am a musician, so we tried to meld those together. We are doing a mock festival taking place in 2020, and we are following the worlds events throughout 2020, and the festival doesn’t necessarily go as planned.”

Gilroy said the performance will be particularly unique due to Haynes living in Vancouver.

“Sierra is living in Vancouver right now, so she has to do this whole thing via electronics,” said Gilroy. “She is going to be a broadcaster who is commentating on the festival as I perform. We will both be performing, but I will be the only one visible when you walk by the window.”

Gilroy said the performance will consist of two original songs written by her, as well as two covers.

Aren Okemaysim, one of Globe Theatre’s artistic associates, said the team of associates has been hard at work looking for new and creative ways to have performances take place.

“In the early stages of planning, we were riffing ideas of what we could potentially do that is covid friendly, and one of us had the idea of having different shows in store fronts,” said Okemaysim. “And celebrating it on World Theatre Day is a great way for the community to come and see something a little experimental, but also still theatre.”

On top of planning the event, Okemaysim, as well as his team, have been creating a performance that allows for the audience to feel like part of the show.

“I am part of a trio with Robyn Sanderson and Devon Bonneau and the three of us have developed an experimental movement piece with different sound elements,” said Okemaysim. “We will be in the storefront, but we will have a drum pad outside. The audience will be able to hit the drum pad, and it will trigger audio that plays back to the audience and the actors. The audience kind of gets to guide the action.”

With performers located behind glass, Gilroy is excited to see how performing differs from a normal show.

“It will be interesting performing live in this way because part of performing live is the feedback from the audience,” said Gilroy. “Normally, you can see them clapping or hopefully not booing, so performing where they can hear me, but I can’t hear them or see their face because of masks will be a really interesting experience.”

Audiences will be able to travel to different windows in the downtown core with a map in hand. No new date for the performance has been set by the Globe Theatre.

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