The SMC Troubadours Meet COVID-19

The SMC Troubadours Meet COVID-19

Photo Credit: SMC Troubadours Logo

The show must go on

Marcella van Run, Editor-at-Large

The SMC Troubadours, established in 2013, are a drama society at the University of Toronto (U of T) affiliated with the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC). The Mike interviewed Nour Ramzi, Co-Executive Producer, and Emily Villani, Equity Director, of the Troubadours to see how this campus drama society is adapting to COVID-19 restrictions and how USMC students can get involved with the program.

The Troubadours’ fall semester productions will all be done remotely, including rehearsals, meetings, recordings, and performances. All fall shows can be attended on a Pay What You Can (PWYC) basis and accessed online. There are three remaining fall shows: One Slow Summer, LUV, and the Troubadours’ comedy cabaret by The SMC Funnies, taking place in November. Winter shows have yet to be announced, but will be revealed over social media. You can find them @smc_troubadours on Instagram, and at St. Michael’s College Troubadours on Facebook.

“We have several contingency plans, with our goal being an in-person show with some form of audience, and our final resort being similar to how we’re doing our fall shows–completely remotely. Whatever the case may be come January, we’re ready, and we’re here to make sure students have an opportunity and space to create art in a safe way,” Ramzi and Villani told The Mike.  

Clubs can be an oasis of community for students amidst the wider and more daunting university setting, and the SMC Troubadours are no exception. “Giving students that sense of community when it’s so hard to interact with each other in person, especially for all the new students, is really vital,” Ramzi and Villani said. “When we went about selecting our shows for the year, a common theme we wanted to [emphasize] is that of the human experience.”

In this sense, the theatre is also a space for social commentary. Included in the theme of human experience is the reality that it looks so different for everyone, and the SMC Troubadours hope to reflect this reality in their productions: “Marginalized communities got it the hardest. We wanted our shows to be able to show that challenge and that uncertainty, but also the humanity behind that struggle. If we’re trying to think of silver linings, we think that COVID-19 exposed some realities that were often hidden by different power dynamics.”

The past months have pushed many to reflect on what “normal” looks like, and Ramzi and Villani told The Mike that, “normative theater practices [can] incur [barriers and hostilities] on many communities, so we want to take this opportunity, through the stories we tell and how we tell them, to try and analyze those barriers that we’ve all played a hand in.”

Students can play a part in telling those stories. If you are interested in getting involved with the SMC Troubadours, auditions for their winter semester productions will be open primarily to students in Toronto and the GTA, with the hope of eventually returning to an in-person model with a live audience–one of the most important aspects of the theatre. Students outside Toronto and the GTA can still apply to remote crew and design positions available for the fall semester, as well as a few winter semester positions reserved for students operating remotely. All applications will be publicized through the SMC Troubadours social media.

And the good news, Ramzi and Villani told The Mike, is that “you don’t need any previous experience in theatre to get involved! We’re always looking for new people to join our little community, and even if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, the rest of us are here to support you along the way!”