Blyth Festival forced to cancel 'The Waltz' run due to lost time
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
The Blyth Festival has cancelled the entire run of its third show, Marie Beath Badian’s The Waltz, which was set to open next weekend at the Festival’s Harvest Stage.
“Caught in Ontario’s seventh wave, with COVID-19 spreading in the company, the Blyth Festival was twice forced to delay the beginning of rehearsals, and after sober reflection, we are now at the point where there is no longer a conceivable way to thoroughly, or appropriately, rehearse the show and so we have cancelled the show outright,” reads a press release from the Festival issued on Tuesday morning.
The release states that an emergency meeting of the Festival’s board of directors was called, at which the decision was made. It goes on to state that the board was faced with a decision between taking a financial loss and compromising the Festival’s artistic integrity and the board made the decision to not compromise the Festival’s artistic integrity.
In an interview with The Citizen, Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt said the decision was terribly difficult and heart-wrenching, but that it was the right thing to do.
He said he and playwright Marie Beath Badian have been working together at the Festival on and off for more than 20 years now. The community’s relationship with Badian is an important, long-standing one, he said, adding that the Festival audience is very invested in Badian’s work, which is why it was so important to give the play all the support it needed, something the Festival was unable to do after losing that rehearsal time.
Garratt said the group was only together for a day or two during a two-week period due to COVID-19 infections and it started to become clear to those involved that time was running out on the production. He said there was a chance that the team could have pushed through, but that would involve making no changes to the play and having just a few days of rehearsal and that’s only if nothing else were to go wrong. Soon enough, he said, they knew they had to cancel the show.
Garratt said he hopes the Festival can produce the play at a later date, but that the time was just not right at the time, for a variety of reasons.
He said the Festival had upgraded its rehearsal hall equipment in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, including two new U.V. machines, proper ventilation, mask-wearing and bi-weekly testing. Still, the virus was able to derail the production, Garratt said.
The release said that box office staff are currently working on getting in touch with those who had purchased tickets to the show.
The production of John Ware Reimagined is set to move ahead with preview performances slated to begin on Sept. 1.
For more information, visit online at blythfestival.com.