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Opinion: Performers need their audiences back

Live events without a live audience are just the worst for the performers. We need you. We need to hear your reactions. Without you we are nothing.
Moms The Word 2
Keara Barnes Deb, Yumi Ogawa, Linda, Tamara McCarthy Robin, Anna Russell Jill, and Sara Bynoe Alison star in Mom's The Word

“I’m back in the game! Give me a drink and a long drag of conversation, I’ll inhale every word!”

This line in the play Mom’s the Word starts off a hilarious piece about the awkward return to society as you ease out of the first years of motherhood, but in 2022 I think we can all relate on a very personal level.

Perhaps I have not fully unpacked my feelings from the last two years, but there is a very real part of me that sort of relished those months of “stay-at-home” time. Don’t get me wrong - the anxiety was in full swing (where it remains steadfast to this day), but I wasn’t terribly bothered by the considerable decrease in obligations.

As we shift into what appears to be a new chapter of the pandemic (again), there have been many conversations in my circles (the events, arts and entertainment circles) about how the next year is going to look. Not so much in terms of precautions – I believe after the last two years we have developed quite an ability to roll with those ever-changing punches. I am speaking more from an audience perspective. Are the crowds going to come back to us? Even typing the word “crowds” feels a little dirty to me now. Are we there yet? How do we plan for what comes next?  

For me personally, after spending the last two years at home I have noticed a real shift in what it takes to get me out of my house for anything more than a Starbucks. Last week, the Prince George Dance Festival was finally able to return to an in-person format after two years of virtual-only options. Two weeks ago, the UNBC Musical Club did the same. Both events (smartly) chose to also offer a streamed version, which allowed me to take in performances while I was on breaks in between my own performances and rehearsals of Mom’s the Word. What a great option! I don’t have to miss out and my out of town family and those who may currently be trapped in an isolation station can still get a glimpse into these performances.

But what if we start to choose this virtual option out of reclusivity rather than necessity? What does that mean for those performers? As an actor I can tell you firsthand and it is bleak. Live events without a live audience are just the worst for the performers. We need you. We need to hear your reactions. Without you we are nothing. You complete us. But most of all – we can entertain you better IN PERSON.

Mom’s the Word is the final show in Theatre NorthWest’s 2021/2022 season. It is a highly relatable comedy for anyone who is a mom, or has a mom, or has ever spoken with a mom. It is a great excuse to get out of the house, break through the pandemic wall of seclusion and have an experience with others again. Laugh until your face hurts. Wear your mask, or distance yourself from other parties if that keeps you feeling comfortable. Wear your pajamas. Heck, wear your slippers if that’s what you’re feeling that night, we won’t judge!

Before each performance of Mom’s the Word (which runs until May 4th), Theatre NorthWest will also be announcing its upcoming 2022/2023 season and season tickets will be available for purchase in the lobby before the show. There are lots of incredible ways to subscribe to the season but my personal favourite is the flex pass – four flexible tickets. You can use all four at once, one for each show in the season, two tickets for two shows, it is truly flexible and it’s a smoking deal!

Tickets are still available for the final week of performances of Mom’s the Word. If you are feeling comfortable stepping back into society after the hiatus please come join us! The moms would love to see you!

Anna Russell is an artistic associate at Theatre NorthWest in Prince George.