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Some Theatre Company to present ‘The Woman in Black’

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BANGOR – A local theatre company is bringing thrills and chills to the stage this coming weekend.

Some Theatre Company will present their production of “The Woman in Black,” adapted by Stephen Mallatrat to the stage from Susan Hill’s 1983 novel of the same name. Directed by STC’s Elaine Bard, the show will run from October 29 through November 1 at the theatre’s Bangor Mall performance space. For tickets or more information, visit www.stcmaine.org or check out the Some Theatre Company Facebook page.

It’s a psychological thriller of sorts – a scary show that is just perfect for the Halloween season – the story of a young solicitor who gets far more than he bargained for when he investigates a client’s estate following her passing.

Offering in-person performance is difficult in these trying times. However, Bard and the rest of the Some Theatre Company crew have gone to great lengths to ensure that their audiences have not just a good time, but a safe one – they’re all about making the experience the right kind of scary.

To that end, Bard was kind enough to answer some questions about the upcoming production via email. She shared the STC process and protocols and talked about why they chose this show and their feelings regarding the importance of live performance, even in difficult times.

What has it been like doing live theatre in the midst of the current circumstances?

Elaine Bard: These shows have been a bright spot in a strange and turbulent time. It’s really rewarding to be able to offer back something tangible to our community that has supported us through this difficult period. Being able to provide safe, live theatre for our dedicated fans is wonderful. And if we scare the daylights out of them in the process, even better.

What has your process been in terms of observing and maintaining safety protocols?

EB: Much like the restaurant industry, we’ve adapted so people can enjoy a live social experience safely. We’ve adjusted and reduced our seating capacity (seating at 1/4 our full capacity), adhere to social distancing and masking guidelines and deep-clean the entire theatre before and after each show (wiping down the seats, using UV sanitation and more). You can see a complete list of all our procedures on our website. After our August show, we diligently monitored our cast and crew for three weeks after our last performance. We are happy to report no instances of any illness, COVID-19 or otherwise, in our audiences or cast.

What are some of the other ways in which the process has changed - how are you handling rehearsals, for instance?

EB: Actors prescreen before coming in to rehearsal for any symptoms. We have hand sanitizer stations not only backstage, but on stage as well and if any physical contact happens, sanitizer also happens. Readthroughs are done via Zoom; hygiene and proper distancing when not on stage are expected. We also have a Covid contract which requires actors to remain in this area and not travel to hot spots, and to limit social interactions with friends and even family. It’s been surprisingly one of the healthiest seasons we’ve ever had.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced in getting back into the theatre?

EB: Many creative arts organizations are facing similar obstacles - how do you pay your rent when you aren’t selling tickets? It’s been heartening to see many organizations take various creative routes to answer this question. When we moved into the Bangor Mall in the beginning of 2020, we never foresaw this happening, in fact, we had just taken the plunge of signing a year’s contract on a space of our own. The Bangor Mall expected full rent to be paid and we had cancelled all of our shows through the summer. In the end it was our fans, actors and creatives who helped us. They did a lip sync fundraiser, keeping a roof over our heads when no money was coming in. The arts community is saving the arts community. But there’s a long road ahead, as things look like they’re settling in for the long haul.

Little challenges also cropped up: Getting the word out. Many of the changes for the coronavirus have made it hard to do all the normal little things you do with theatres. Small stuff like hanging posters, a lot of businesses have changed if and where you can hang items. Many no longer have vestibules or public billboards. Unfortunately, doing all the right things and not getting COVID isn’t how one makes headlines.  

Our advice to other venues is: Reach out for help. We owe our still being here to our fans. The City of Bangor has stepped up to help the arts by offering COVID Relief grants which we have used to offset our financial struggles from reduced seating. Every little bit helps. The audience wants us to succeed, the community wants us to succeed, and we at Some Theatre Company want others to succeed. Our philosophy is, we are stronger together, and now is the time to unite and help each other. We are here to help anyone who reaches out and asks. We want to pay it forward.

This is your second in-person effort since the pandemic hit - what sorts of things have you learned? Any advice for others looking to get back on the live performance horse?

EB: This can be done. The State Guidelines can be met and safe, live events can be held with planning, patience and creativity. Our audience through a poll told us they had no interest in digital works, so we decided to produce small cast shows, block creatively and make sure our actors, crew, and audience feel safe. Most of all, we listened to what our audience and actors felt they needed to come back to the Theatre. 

Tell us a little bit about “The Woman in Black.”

It’s a thrill ride of epic proportions that builds in intensity. It’s not obvious in its scares, instead, it subtly creeps up on you and holds you like a taut violin string. It’s a beautiful piece of theatre that shouldn’t be missed, especially in our space; being that we are a black box theatre with no proscenium between you and the actors, even with social distancing, you still feel intimately connected.

What prompted you to choose this particular show?

We have a tradition of Halloween shows that go back to our founding. “Evil Dead,” “Carrie” and “Sweeney Todd” are titles we have brought to the community in the past. Gore, chills and suspense are really an STC cup of tea. We embrace this season in the same way some people embrace Christmas. Speaking of which... 

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

If terror isn’t your jam, your readers will be interested to know that Becky Adams is directing “Every Christmas Story Ever Told” for our holiday offering. This is a hilarious way of laughing at every Christmas story from those told by Hollywood to those we read the night before the big day.

Last modified on Wednesday, 28 October 2020 11:47

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