Stage Door News

St. Catharines: Essential Theatre Collective holds a live-streamed Quarantine Cabaret May 1

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Its season may be shuttered, but Essential Collective Theatre isn't dropping the curtain yet.

The St. Catharines theatre company hopes to keep the creative spirit alive during the COVID-19 pandemic by hosting an online Quarantine Cabaret on May 1. The livestreamed event will showcase the best artist video submissions gathered throughout April, with an option to donate directly to each performer.

ECT general manager Rebecca Walsh says the event, replacing the company's annual Vaudeville fundraiser, is an outlet for performers who feel cooped up during the crisis.

"It gives them something to create while in quarantine," she says.

"I know artists are suffering. I know a lot of them are slipping through the cracks as well. It's not the same thing as a paycheque, but it allows people to value what they do."

Like other Niagara theatre companies, ECT is reeling from the complete shutdown of live events during the pandemic. The spring production "Don't Do It, Don't Do It, Do It!" was cancelled, along with the summer project "Senior Stories." The Wine and Reading new play development program was also postponed.

While mired in this "theatrically dark time," Walsh says the Quarantine Cabaret should boost morale for performers and patrons. Videos of dancers, singers, musicians, magicians, puppeteers and other acts can be submitted to Walsh at

Subject matter is wide open, but videos including racism, homophobia, sexism or xenophobia won't be accepted. Artists are also asked not to perform with other people, in the spirit of social distancing.

Videos that reflect the vaudeville era are preferred, with an emphasis on "creativity, dark humour and raw talent."

Selected videos will be shown throughout April on ECT's YouTube channel, webpage and social media. Submissions will be accepted until April 25.

The May 1 cabaret will be hosted by LilaTown and The Silent Clown.

"It's funny that the Spanish Flu (of 1918) just completely shut down vaudeville," says Walsh. "It was right at its prime right then. The timing is interesting, so I thought having a vaudeville theme would be neat."

Photo: LilaTown and The Silent Clown. © 2020.