Theatre Live and Online

Citadel Theatre able to offer virtual masterclasses and theatre workshops to more than 1,000 attendees during May and June thanks to ECF grant.

Before the pandemic hit, Danielle LaRose was starting up an all-female theatre company, working on a project in the UK, and teaching theatre classes at the Grindstone Theatre. Now, LaRose spends her time attending virtual master classes offered by the Citadel Theatre after COVID-19 put her projects on hold.

LaRose and similar artists were left with no space in which to share their work when the pandemic hit. Theatre productions and workshops were postponed or cancelled altogether. With no stage to share, the Edmonton arts community felt isolated.

 “Other than that initial watershed moment of watching all of these creative projects be washed away, I feel like the biggest impact COVID-19 is having on me as an artist is finding balance,” says LaRose, who’s an actor and director.

 To learn the latest skills of their trade, many artists rely on workshops and classes, which had to be cancelled when the pandemic began. The pandemic has also affected the sense of community between artists. Theatre is a collaborative art and social distancing has forced artists to create in isolation.

 “We didn’t realize how necessary [master classes were] for artists during this period of closure and during a time where our cultural sector with closures is, for lack of a better word, being decimated,” says Jessie van Rijn, a producer at the Citadel Theatre. “There’s a lot of uncertainty and there’s a feeling of crisis within our community about how we can get back together.”

Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) supplied the Citadel Theatre with a $10,000 grant to fund free online arts education. Theatre master classes were offered weekly throughout the month of May to artists and patrons. As well, the Citadel Theatre’s Foote Theatre School workshops and classes were offered virtually throughout May and will continue to be online during the summer.

 “The arts are a vital part of our community’s identity,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement says. “While theatres are closed, it’s important that theatre practitioners are able to continue honing their skills through professional development during the pandemic.”

 A total of four master classes were offered throughout May with more than 700 attendees. Due to the positive reaction, four more masterclasses will be offered during June. Registration for the master classes opened less than a week ago with already 400 people registered. Twelve workshops were also offered during May that had more than 125 attendees.

 “We couldn’t have done it without Edmonton Community Foundation,” says Doug Mertz, Director of Education and Outreach at the Citadel Theatre. “It’s so great to know that we have such great community partners that are there to support us as we attempt to navigate this new normal that we’re all living in.”

 For artists like LaRose, the Citadel’s master classes are an opportunity to spark creativity while learning from well-known professionals in the theatre community.

 “I’m constantly teaching and constantly learning. I think that’s the beauty of what we do,” says LaRose. “I love teaching and I learn as much from the act of teaching as I do from sitting in a class. It’s just such a wonderful opportunity to sit and soak it all up like a sponge.”

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.