The company of Ensemble Theatre's 2018 Summer Repertory Festival.
The company of Ensemble Theatre's 2018 Summer Repertory Festival

Hot on the heels of the announcement that the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival will not proceed this summer, Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) has also cancelled its annual Summer Repertory Festival due to COVID-19.

"Theatre has survived crises before. We will survive this." - ETC artistic director Tariq Leslie.
“Theatre has survived crises before. We will survive this.” – Ensemble Theatre Company artistic director Tariq Leslie.

“Theatre isn’t very good with social distancing. Our specialty, in fact, is the opposite: social inclusion,” says ETC artistic director Tariq Leslie in an email.

“In normal times, the heart of our job is bringing a group of strangers together, rubbing elbows and breathing the same air, and telling them stories that make them feel less alone, less an isolated individual, and more part of a larger community. These, alas, are not normal times, and sadly ETC must cancel our 2020 Summer Festival.”

Leslie goes onto say his company is exploring creative ways to bridge the gap between the realities of the current health crisis and a future where gatherings in theatres can once again take place. ETC is planning on releasing its plans in May.

“We are envisioning digital initiatives intended to keep the flame of the theatre alive while we wait out this moment,” says Leslie. “We will continue to try and keep our artists together and bring the results to you, to watch and hopefully participate.”

Recognizing the impact COVID-19 has had on the arts community as a whole, Leslie also makes an appeal to support one of the numerous arts and cultural organizations in the region that have been impacted, including ETC.

“Theatre has survived crises before. We will survive this. We will come back together, and Ensemble will be here, to tell stories of grief and loss, and stories of joy and celebration,” he says. “We will be here because theatre is necessary. We will be here because we will need and want to be together again.”