Toronto theatre company back on stage with support from Red Cross screening program

By Caitlin Simpson, Canadian Red Cross digital volunteer
Although the staff at Theatre Gargantua in Toronto picked up some interesting hobbies and pastimes during the early stages of lockdown - like gardening and baking - they were eager to get back to the stage and unite the community. When they were able to do so, Theatre Gargantua quickly applied for and adopted the Stop the Spread program to ensure that their staff and audience would feel safe and comfortable getting back to live theatre.  
A testing station, including swabs, gloves, on a table in front of a theatre stageWith support from the Government of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross implemented the Stop the Spread program to help not-for-profits and charities continue to operate in a safe manner.  The program provides access to free and easy-to-use COVID-19 rapid test kits as part of a screening program for personnel to mitigate the virus’s spread. 
“Getting back to normal life is more than just being able to go to the grocery store, or the mall, it’s about connecting with your community again. Live theatre brings people together and encompasses the community,” says Alec Harmer, General Manager of Theatre Gargantua. “We’re so thankful the Canadian Red Cross acknowledged the importance of theatre and provided the Stop the Spread Program so we can operate with the confidence that we are doing everything we can to keep our staff and audience safe.” 
The Stop the Spread Program is a screening program that uses rapid antigen tests as one of its tools, along with masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing and cleaning protocols that can reduce the spread of COVID-19.  
“It was incredibly easy to apply for and implement, and the benefit has been immense,” says Alec. “Our staff feel comfortable at work, and comfortable returning home to their families and bubbles knowing that our organization provides testing, we’re all vaccinated, and we have implemented numerous other safety protocols to keep us safe.” 
A poster of Theatre Gargantuan's new play A Tonic for Desperate Times depicting a bird sitting on a hand with others flying in the backgrounThe theatre’s first live show since lockdown in March 2020, “A Tonic for Desperate Times”, premieres November 3rd in Toronto. The creative process for the show began in 2019, but through the pandemic, it evolved to reflect the hard times communities have collectively endured.
“It’s a show about hope, little nuggets of hope in the despair that we see everywhere. Finding calm in the chaos, little moments that inspire everyone every day,” explains Alec. 
The show reflects a creative parallel to the world we are facing and the importance of sticking together for the collective good. Organizations adopting the Stop the Spread program are keeping their community safe and ensuring everyone can safely get back to the things they love.
Alec has advice for other not-for-profits and charities thinking about implementing the program “Go for it. It’s incredibly easy to implement, and the security and comfort it provides is immeasurable. What are you waiting for?” 
Learn more about the Stop the Spread program and apply. 

Learn more about Theatre Gargantua and their upcoming shows.

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