Live theatre returns to Gabriola

Gabriola Players

Press Release

Wednesday, September 9 2020

Okay, there won’t actually be a theatre, but on September 17, 18 and 19 at 7pm there will be live performances by Gabriola Players of two new pandemic-themed pieces written by local playwrights. That’s right: absolutely live on Zoom.

In TJ Radcliffe’s short play, All and Nothing, Alan and Emma, a couple who moved from Toronto to the gulf islands last year (and are weathering the pandemic with sailing and walks in the woods), catch up with friends from the city. Daisy, a healthcare worker, is currently in quarantine in a hotel, whilst her husband Chris, at home in their tiny Toronto condo, has watched his plans to open a massage therapy practice go up in socially distanced smoke. 

In Ray Appel’s one-act play, Syd’s Cosmic Slump, comedian Syd has been offered a great opportunity – the chance to perform a stand-up routine as part of a nationally televised variety show. Problem is, Syd can’t think of anything funny to say, what with a pandemic raging and his father Max isolated in his care home. Chilled Uncle Larry advises going with the flow, but the flow’s dried up.

This is the first play written by painter Appel, who describes how it came about thus: “I love painting on canvas, but I found myself in early days of the pandemic stuck. Totally stuck. I couldn’t paint, and I didn’t really want to. I was worried and I talked with some of the other artists on the island who felt the same way, so I decided to channel my creativity into another project - a play!  During the second week, I gave my first draft to a friend who worked in movie production in Vancouver. He was kind in his feedback, but he was also – thank goodness – direct. 

“I spent about three hours a day for the next several weeks writing, revising and crafting. Throughout the process, I kept everything under wraps except for conversing with two writer friends who would raise fantastic questions which in turn helped me deepen story arcs. It’s been a very exciting process for me! Over time, it became totally different from the first idea of not being able to paint, to a one act play about a comedian named Syd, who, as the title suggests, is going through a truly cosmic slump.”

Radcliffe, who’s been writing for stage and screen since he was in his teens, was the driving force behind the project. As he explains: “It really hit me back in March – the sudden absence of live theatre. We were in the middle of our one-act play festival when everything just shut down, with no end in sight. I realized if we didn’t do something different, we’d have nothing to play with and that would be awful.

“I wrote All and Nothing as a reflection on how the pandemic has hit some of us much harder than others, as I heard from friends across the country about how their lives were being affected – or not – in different ways. It was originally meant to be a short film, but talking with Ray I realized that Zoom webinars offered us the medium to perform live – with the potential to be seen anywhere in the world. I suggested the idea to my fellow Gabriola Players board members and they jumped at the chance to try something new.”

Miranda Holmes, who is directing All and Nothing, adds: “A lot of theatre companies around the world have been streaming pre-recorded films of plays during the pandemic, but we like to fly by the seat of our pants. So, grab a beverage from your fridge, dress casually – pyjamas are fine – get comfortable in your living room – or kitchen or bedroom – and enjoy the show!”

Tickets (or perhaps more accurately “the right to view”) for the live performances can be purchased on the Players website, gabriolaplayers.ca. Once the payment is made you will receive an email with instructions for logging on to your chosen show.