After a season of cancellations, postponements, staff quarantines and logistical nightmares, Whitefish Theatre Company (WTC) will host its last performance of the season, “Things Being What They Are,” for both live and virtual audiences on May 8-9.
The contemporary play portrays two regular adult men, who make up the entire show’s cast, contemplating life.
“There are not very many plays about guys just hanging out and talking about big life questions,” Executive Director Jen Asebrook said. “That’s what intrigued us about this play.”
As a light comedy with deep themes, there are just two actors in the black curtain play, a minimalistic performance that doesn’t utilize costumes or sets, and actors have their scripts in hand, known as “reader’s theater.”
While WTC has historically hosted black curtain theater, Asebrook says it’s been especially appropriate throughout the pandemic, and staff have chosen plays with particularly small casts. There haven’t been more than four actors in a black curtain play throughout the season. The performances require less rehearsal time and fewer staff.
Asebrook calls “Things Being What They Are” “funny but with big themes,” and says audiences will walk out of the theater with a “feel-good” attitude, which is what staff wanted to see as the season-ender.
The simple show is quite a change from normal season-ending performances, which usually entail a grand production.
“It feels a little quieter with the two-person show, but I think it’s a good way to end the season and we’re looking forward to that,” Asebrook said. “We pulled off seven shows and it’s kept us moving along and also thinking outside the box.”
Last year, WTC received a grant to purchase camera equipment so staff could prerecord all of their shows for a virtual audience. Of the seven shows this season, two were entirely virtual while the rest were both live and online.
Asebrook says the theater company gained a growing audience of online viewers and will continue filming performances as long as they remain popular in a post-pandemic world. She says WTC likely won’t film every show because it winds up costing more and the company has to buy both live and digital rights.
In addition to the online performances, the theater company also hosted four live shows, not including the upcoming play. Last fall, WTC hosted its first show with an average audience of 40 people per night with mask requirements and distancing. The theater gradually saw larger audiences as the season progressed, and Asebrook will cap the final show at around 100 in the 325-seat theater.
“With the last two shows, it’s been really lovely to see people again,” Asebrook said. “Because everyone is following our protocol it’s been easy to pull off and we feel confident about everybody’s safety.”
Whitefish Theatre Company’s next season will begin Sept. 25 with nine theater shows, five musical concerts and one illusionist, some of which were postponed from last season. Singer KT Tunstall will play a New Year’s Eve show, and Ed Asner, who starred in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, will also perform in a play he wrote called “God Help Us.”
For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.whitefishtheatreco.org.
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