A Message From Thom
So many of our theatres are closed or will be closed. Prairie Theatre Exchange recently ended its 2019-2020 season, closing or cancelling three world premieres ahead of schedule. It is an emotional time and with each new announcement my heart goes out to everyone impacted by the courageous and difficult choices made by arts organizations. The conversations I have had in the last week have been some of the most beautiful, raw, tear stricken, and hopeful of my life.
It’s almost my son’s birthday. Gabriel turns three this year (on World Theatre Day). Each year, leading up to World Theatre Day and his birthday, I reflect on how all of us in the arts help to inspire, challenge, provoke, bewilder, shake, and entertain audiences in ways that I believe change the world for the better. Each year I see the world, now, through Gabriel. It has firmed my resolve that theatre has the ability to invite the heart and the mind to imagine the world differently. This year, in this moment, I’ve never loved the theatre more.
This past Sunday, Gabriel and I went to the theatre for the final performance of By Grand Central Station (a Heavy Bell production, credits below in photo credits) at PTE. We arrived part way through the performance because of, well, nap time. We sat in the space between the main theatre doors and the entrance to the space. He said, "Shh." Something about the music (eight live musicians) coming from the theatre changed his interest, his curiosity. I closed my eyes to listen to the music. When I opened them, his eyes were closed. When he opened them, he smiled from ear to ear. "Papa, can we go inside?" Filled with excitement. "Not yet, Gabriel."
It was the “not yet” that got me. Our theatre, our play home, will have to wait until the Fall. After our closing performance, I looked at our empty theatre and was fully struck with the notion that the theatre is an invitation. An invitation to hear stories. An invitation from audiences for us to bring and share stories. An invitation to see the world for what it is and to imagine what it can be or what it will be.
The invitation is open. For the time being, to audiences, I say thank you for your support. I also implore you to keep artists and not-for-profit arts organization in your thoughts and hearts. Donating a ticket, or donating $5, $50, $100 would not only help us to navigate this time, but also send us a message of love and support. You might also consider donating to the Actor’s Fund of Canada. To the artists, let’s continue to hold each other and hold each other up, as we have been, beautifully. PTE will be here to do as much as we can.
When the music stopped on Sunday, Gabriel asked, "Now, Papa?" We both waited in a charged silence. Then the applause began, I opened the doors and he sprinted into the theatre to go and clap for the music.