The team of horses is ready to pull riders for Caravan Farm Theatre’s sold-out Winter Sleigh-Ride Show of the Gift from Dec. 8-Jan.2. The Spallumcheen theatre company wants the province to include live theatre on its list of businesses allowed to operate during COVID-19. (File photo)

The team of horses is ready to pull riders for Caravan Farm Theatre’s sold-out Winter Sleigh-Ride Show of the Gift from Dec. 8-Jan.2. The Spallumcheen theatre company wants the province to include live theatre on its list of businesses allowed to operate during COVID-19. (File photo)

Spallumcheen theatre group plans for socially safe winter show to go on

Caravan Farm Theatre asks province to include live theatre on lists of businesses allowed to operate

With the Provincial Health Office’s recent COVID-19 order that suspends social events and gatherings, including live theatre performances, until midnight Dec. 7, Caravan Farm Theatre is holding the space for its sold-out Winter Sleigh-Ride Show of The Gift.

Caravan’s Winter Sleigh-Ride production is currently scheduled to run multiple times, Dec. 8 to Jan. 2.

In a letter to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, Caravan Farm Theatre manager and artistic director Estelle Shook, along with Caravan Farm Theatre Society manager board chair Teresa Marshall, have asked that the Provincial Health Office amend its future orders to include professional live theatre on the list of businesses that are allowed to remain operational.

The theatre has also asked its patrons to sign the letter in support.

“While the Caravan’s board and staff commend Dr. Bonnie Henry and the Provincial Health Office’s tireless efforts to steer B.C. through the pandemic, we believe that professional theatre is as safe, and plays as important a role in our communities, as movie theatres, bars, pubs and restaurants, and ski hills,” says Shook.

From the beginning of the pandemic, Caravan has developed and maintained health and safety measures to ensure its staff, crew and patrons are safe before and during productions. This was seen when Caravan hosted its socially distanced Outdoor Summer Theatre Experience as well as its spatial sound Halloween Walk of Terror production, Sparagmos.

“We have developed rigorous COVID-19 protocols in adherence with each provincial health order. These protocols have been developed and implemented by professionally trained practitioners, in conjunction with WorkSafe BC and the support of sectoral organizations such as Actsafe,” Shook said. “This rapid adaptation has allowed us to continue to provide our community with meaningful cultural activity, who now, more than ever, need safe opportunities to connect, imagine and enjoy.”

This year’s Winter Sleigh-Ride show is no exception.

Winter production safety measures include capping audience capacity to 48 people per show and only selling tickets to “bubbles” of six people or less. Each of the four sleighs will only accommodate 12 patrons of two bubbles each, with each designated a side of the sleigh and separated by a plexiglass barrier that will run across the middle. All patrons will be required to wear masks.

“Similar to movie theatres, restaurants, pubs and bars, Caravan has taken reservations of patrons in ‘bubbles’ to observe traffic flow and has designated a sanitized space to occupy in a shared common area,” Shook said. “And like ski hills, our patrons assemble outdoors to attend events. They also similarly pass through a series of low, to no-contact processes such as a box office/admission gate, and front of house lobby/lift lines.”

Shook said ushers and front-of-house staff direct and gently control the movements of patrons.

“We provide a safe, much-needed service to our communities, especially at this time of year.”

The team at Caravan Farm Theatre has designed their winter show production to be prepared for multiple scenarios, even an extended shutdown.

“We knew a shutdown was a possibility and have designed our production to be ready to adapt,” Shook said. “We will move the entire event to January if we need to. For those who cannot attend, the show will be available as a digital experience, complete with steady cam footage to capture the horses and the sleigh ride route through the fields and forests. By hook or by crook, we will deliver our winter show.”

For more information, visit www.caravanfarmtheatre.com.

READ MORE: Sound effects at play for Caravan’s Halloween event

READ MORE: Caravan postpones summer show as Spallumcheen theatre takes a loss



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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