WATCH FOCUS HERE!
Focus is planned months in advance, and the 2020 edition of the festival was well underway in March when it became clear that every aspect of our lives would be upended. It soon became apparent that none of the plays we had in development, including the world premiere of a new musical inspired by the iconic songbook of Gord Downie, made sense anymore. So, we put them on ice and instead began creating plays centred around themes currently being navigated by our students that could be performed in isolation.
But Focus, which has been laying tracks now for more than three decades, has always been pretty nimble at shifting gears. The plays we’ve championed, and done best in my opinion, have been eager to buck both the status quo and theatrical convention. Over the years, car plays have driven off with us in the back seat, telephone plays whispered in our ear, and T-shirt plays shrunk in the washing machine!
So, in a way, it feels quite natural that Focus is breaking new ground once again.
Confronted with a situation they could never have imagined, SAC’s actors, artists, and musicians have used their time in isolation to come up with imaginative new ways to showcase their work. Since we can’t physically be at St. Andrew’s together right now, we decided that the show must go on(line)!
The result is a digital festival that features six world premieres, seven brave new works and a series of 20 (yep, you read that right, 20) short plays all filmed on the actors’ smartphones, from their homes, in keeping with social distancing.
All of the plays in this year’s festival nudge us toward compassion because that’s what theatre does: it asks us to think and feel beyond the confines of our own insular lives and find fellow-feeling with those around us in our communities.
But right now, community is the problem, not the solution. You can’t visit the School, so we’ve recreated the communal viewing experience differently. With a simple click of a button you’ll be able to watch our mainstage shows together with your fellow Andreans in Live Viewing Parties on May 6, 7, and 8, and then stick around for a Q&A with the actors.
Now that’s a good trick, isn’t it?
We may be far from St. Andrew’s right now, but St. Andrew’s is never very far from us. Wherever you are in the world, we hope you’ll be able to take in this special digital edition of Focus for a few days of culture, connection, and meaning that promises to brighten all of our lives!
Story by William Scoular, Head of Drama and Film