This past year has been a challenging one to say the least. With Snowmageddon followed almost immediately by the ongoing pandemic – it’s been enough to take the wind out of anyone’s sails. But so many, local businesses, artists and arts organizations included, have shown us how it’s possible to weather the worst of storms.
Collaboration, creativity, ingenuity and resilience – these are things we talk about all the time on this blog. But throughout 2020, our arts community has shown, in a big way, how to harness the energy of each to come out stronger on the other side. Artists have made some ingenious pivots last year – so many, in fact, that we still haven’t had the chance to cover them all. But the ones we have profiled are just the kind of inspiration that might help you to tackle the creative challenges in your own life.
Here, in no particular order, are some of our favourites from the blog from 2020.
Perchance Theatre & The Power of One
You might say that Perchance Theatre has taken the phrase “All the world’s a stage” to heart. When the pandemic shut down their summer theatre season in Cupids, they decided to bring the Bard’s works right into people’s homes. “The Power of One” has been filming local actors performing Shakespeare’s monologues in some of the province’s most breathtaking locations – from the snowy wonderland of Nain and the seaweed-strewn beaches of Woody Point, to the rocky shores of Flat Rock and many points in between. Perchance has been releasing a new video each Tuesday, and the best part? You always get the best seat in the house. (Click here to read more.)
The CO-VIDeo Collective
The clever and talented folks behind the CO-VIDeo Collective have proven that it’s still possible to collaborate, even when we have to stay apart. Led by local musician, photographer and graphic designer Ritche Perez, the collective consists of musicians located in this province, and beyond, who’ve been performing beloved tunes from the ‘80s and ‘90s to help spread joy and ease some of the isolation of the pandemic. They record themselves performing their parts at home, while Perez later edits the footage into one cohesive music video. From pop and rock to hair metal, there’s bound to be something that makes you smile! (Read more here.)
Like the CO-VIDeo Collective, some of the province’s choirs and other music organizations have also shown how it’s possible to make beautiful music together, and stay connected, even from a distance. From the Holy Heart Fellas choir and the Atlantic Boychoir to the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, these groups have been bringing hope and inspiration straight into people’s homes through their moving online performances – collaborative efforts made possible through the wonders of technology. (Click here to check them out.)
SmokeShow & Drive-In Circus Shows
When the pandemic hit, it forced the members of SmokeShow (a performance group that blends live music with circus, aerial arts and fire) to put their upcoming tour on pause. But instead of sitting around and waiting for things to get back to normal, they leaped into action, imagining ways to share the magic of circus with others in a safe and socially-distanced way. Over the summer, they brought their drive-in circus shows to audiences around the province. It was no small feat, but judging by the blare of vehicle horns (how audiences showed their appreciation), it’s obvious that the effort was much appreciated. (Click here to read all about it.)
Shakespeare By the Sea Online Edition
Shakespeare By The Sea (SBTS) is known for staging their productions around some of the prettiest locations in St. John’s and the surrounding areas. But what do you do when audiences can’t gather for your performances? You gather what costumes you have on hand and hop on Zoom, using digital backgrounds to bring the dramatic scenes to life; or film the scenes in your own background or at a nearby park. From couriering props and costumes across the country to coordinating and directing 40+ actors online, there were some logistical hurdles to overcome, but the SBTS team jumped over them in fine style. (Click here to learn more.)
The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival Virtual Edition
The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) went all out in 2019 to celebrate their 30th anniversary, but 2020 saw a different kind of festival emerge. While the pandemic meant it had to take place virtually this year (except for a limited, socially-distanced public screening of their opening night feature), the festival team scaled up in many ways by almost doubling the number of film screenings and expanding their industry events. Hosting things online also meant more people were able to take in the screenings and events, giving the SJIWFF team the chance to celebrate cinema, and build a sense of community, with people across the country. And their efforts didn’t go unnoticed, with the St. John’s Board of Trade honouring them with the 2020 RBC Business Resilience Boundary Pusher Award. (Click here to read more about the 2020 festival.)
St. John’s International CircusFest
When you can’t bring the world to St. John’s, you bring St. John’s to the world. There was no gathering under the big top this year, but the folks at the St. John’s International CircusFest were still able to pull off a dazzling event filled with world class performances, panels and more. Their interactive digital gathering gave participants the chance to come together in all kinds of unique ways, including Zoom socials, a digital cabaret and digital buddy walks (which saw locals pair up with participants from away for a virtual hang out and a tour of St. John’s). The CircusFest team were also able to host a few socially-distanced pop-up performances, sprinkling the magic of circus around the city. (Click here to discover more.)
To all those artists who stared down the daunting challenges of 2020 (bringing smiles, inspiration and making things a bit more bearable for us all), we salute you. We plan to bring you more stories of artist pivots and resilience this year, so stay tuned!