Rose­bud The­atre goes from wooden stage to the vir­tual stage...

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ryan Dahlman

With the pan­demic pro­to­cols in place and with the prov­ince try­ing to get healthy the Rose­bud Homestage Tour is a way for the pop­u­lar the­atre com­pany to reach its fans from all across south­ern Al­berta.

The com­pany has mem­bers and guests per­form­ing songs, the­atre on Fri­day noons live on Face­book.

The livestream per­for­mances be­gan April 3, with David Snider and Jeany Van Mel­te­beke per­form­ing from the 2015 The Wind in the Wil­lows.

Ac­cord­ing to Mor­ris Ert­man, Artis­tic Direc­tor, Rose­bud The­atre, it was dif­fi­cult for the The­atre and the Rose­bud School of Arts to not be able to per­form but they had to make the best of it. “There are so many tal­ented artists con­nected to Rose­bud The­atre. We em­ploy guest artists from across Canada to supple­ment the tal­ent in our staff per­form­ers and Rose­bud School of the Arts stu­dents and grad­u­ates,” said Ert­man. “So, there’s much tal­ent to draw upon. And these tal­ented folks want to share… it wasn’t too oner­ous to get it all set up, thanks to Lau­ren Hamm and Heather Lit­tle of our mar­ket­ing staff.

“Rose­bud The­atre chose to find a way to com­mu­ni­cate and con­nect to the hu­man heart, even though it had to be on a com­puter screen. Our So­cial Me­dia per­son went to work invit­ing any artist who had an as­so­ci­a­tion with Rose­bud The­atre to par­tic­i­pate in a 1 hour live per­for­mance stream from their home. We bat­ted ti­tles around. We brain­stormed ideas from com­plex in­ter­ac­tive ideas to the one we chose, which is sim­ple in its prac­ti­cal­ity, thereby mak­ing ev­ery­thing about the artist and the viewer with as lit­tle tech­ni­cal com­plex­ity as pos­si­ble. And the Homestage Tour was born” Ert­man noted the Board of Gov­er­nors put to­gether a COVID Com­mit­tee con­sist­ing of equal parts man­age­ment and board mem­bers. It turned out to be wise strat­egy, as it kept them in tune with both pro­vid­ing di­rec­tion that takes into ac­count the big pic­ture as well as the un­pre­dictabil­ity of the day to day.

“The can­cel­la­tion of our spring show, Glo­ri­ous!, was a huge fi­nan­cial and cre­ative blow, but we had no choice. Nec­es­sary phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing pro­to­cols were man­dated by the Pro­vin­cial Health Au­thor­ity, and we sim­ply and will­ingly had to com­ply. And the last thing we would want is to put our pa­trons, staff, and per­form­ers at risk. But the loss of rev­enue se­verely af­fected our cash flow. We’re re­liant on ticket sales for some 3/4 of our in­come,” ex­plained Ert­man.

“Thank God for pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives that helped sus­tain our staff to date. They have been re­de­ployed to main­te­nance and other tasks that have of­ten fallen to the way­side in the buzz of a typ­i­cal Rose­bud The­atre Sea­son and teach­ing year. There’s a lot of good in that.”

He added the the­atre and ed­u­ca­tion are ab­so­lutely in­te­grated be­cause of our ap­pren­tice­ship model of train­ing. Stu­dents come in part be­cause they have the “op­por­tu­nity to stand shoul­der to shoul­der with pro­fes­sional ac­tors on a pro­fes­sional stage when they have earned a role.”

In the mean­time, they have to deal with what is at hand, a need for fi­nances.

“We’ve … put our fo­cus on fundrais­ing, with ap­pro­pri­ate staff re­de­ployed there as well. It’s a lot like what I imag­ine a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter like a flood must be - ev­ery­one help­ing to pile sand­bags higher, most ev­ery­one re­de­ployed to sur­vival tasks,” ex­plained Ert­man.

“On Giv­ing Tues­day this month, we raised $43,000. Sep­a­rate from that, many pa­trons have also been gen­er­ous in do­nat­ing the cost of the ticket for can­celled shows - to date $27,000. Rose­bud holds a par­tic­u­lar pride of place in hearts of so many.

Be­sides the fundrais­ing and the livestream per­for­mances, Rose­bud will be do­ing some­thing spe­cial at the end of May. Eert­man said that a few sum­mers ago Eric Pauls and Six Two Six Pro­duc­tions cre­ated a doc­u­men­tary film com­pany filmed a day in the life of Rose­bud called “Rose­bud, Al­berta.”

It has re­ceived crit­i­cal ac­claim on the Film Fes­ti­val cir­cuit, but its re­lease has been stalled be­cause of the can­cel­la­tion of the rest of the fes­ti­vals this year. So, in a bid to help Rose­bud The­atre and School of he Arts, the filmmakers are re­leas­ing the film later this month, ac­com­pa­nied by a fund-rais­ing campaign called #rose­budlives.

Ert­man calls it “an op­por­tu­nity to spread the word across Canada and fur­ther afield be­cause of the way the film cap­tures the seren­ity and the en­ergy of our the­atre-cen­tric arts and hos­pi­tal­ity vil­lage.”

The film pre­mieres May 28 at 7 p.m. on­line at rose­budthe­ sup­port-us. Also watch Face­book for fu­ture Homestage Tour per­for­mances. Those want­ing the tra­di­tional the­atre back will have to wait un­til au­tumn when the pro­duc­tion of the Silent Sky Opera House comes to fruition (Sept. 17 to Oct. 17).

“All in all, the pic­ture in Rose­bud is one of an or­ga­ni­za­tion and com­mu­nity com­ing to­gether to over­come odds in a frag­ile time for live per­for­mance,“said Ert­man. “We’re look­ing at any and all op­tions for the im­me­di­ate fu­ture. It may be that we can of­fer some kind of school that is safe and se­cure for stu­dents, even if we can’t gather peo­ple to see shows. We hope we can be back on­stage with an au­di­ence in fall or at Christ­mas, but that re­ally is out of our hands. But when this is all over, we plan to con­tinue (as a school and the­atre). So much learn­ing takes place for these young per­form­ers in that sit­u­a­tion. And we all know that the very best teacher is the au­di­ence it­self. They teach what you can never put into words in a class­room or stu­dio. So, our hope is to con­tinue work­ing hand in hand - pro­fes­sional artists and plays that mat­ter on Rose­bud The­atre’s stage with the ap­pear­ance of as­ton­ish­ing new tal­ent trained and then of­fered not just to our pa­trons, but to the cul­ture at large.”

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