Preview: Converge Against Corona & The Corona Variations (Convergence Theatre)

Photo of red phone handset with cord by Negative Space

How will you participate in this “Phone Play”?

Every industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, and the performing arts are no exception, with a projected $500 million loss in ticket sales for arts organizations in Toronto alone. Seasons are cancelled, artists are out of work, and people are scared. Conversely, however, there has been an explosion of innovative creation since the lockdown, with livestreamed sing-alongs, balcony concerts, writing challenges, and virtual rehearsals.

Convergence Theatre, generator of such theatre events as Worry Warts (Summerworks 2019), The Unending (Fringe 2016), and The Gladstone Variations (Fringe 2007), is responding to the pandemic with Converge Against Corona, and has issued a call for participants and patrons alike.

In Part One of Converge Against Corona, from 10am, Saturday, March 28th, to 10pm, Sunday, March 29th, anyone is welcome to call Converge’s anonymous hotline at (416) 997-7886 or email Participants are asked to become part of The Covid Confessions, leaving messages about how the virus has impacted their lives.

Next, a roster of artists from all fields, from visual art to dance, theatre, music, film and more, will each be assigned a confession and asked to create a response to it by Friday, April 3rd.

Since each artist will receive a $50 commission fee for their time, Convergence is also looking for the sponsorship of generous patrons. Each gift of $75 will go to pay an artist, with $25 going to the company to run the project. Each patron “purchases” a piece of art, which will be received between Saturday, April 4th, and Sunday, April 5th. An image or clip of the work will also be featured on Convergence’s website, along with a clip from the original confession.

Part Two of the project is The Corona Variations (aka “Phone Play”), a series of plays you can experience without leaving your house. From Tuesday, April 14th to Sunday, April 19th, a cycle of 6 five-minute phone plays will be delivered to individual households over the course of an evening, from 8-11pm, via blocked phone numbers. The show is marked suitable for 16+, with a “Family-Friendly” version potentially to come. Participants will listen in on private conversations, and be asked to participate occasionally via an emailed script. Who knows who you’ll wind up talking to?

Last summer, Convergence’s Worry Warts asked audience members to share their deepest – and most superficial – anxieties, and used those interviews to create a meaningful performance, with stories that ranged from the gently amusing to the genuinely upsetting. Mostly, the show reminded us that we’re not alone, and a worry shared is a smaller burden. As a participant in that show, I think they’re well up to the task of covering the multifaceted response we’re having to COVID-19, which magnifies anxieties, and causes horror and tragedy, but may also produce certain joys.


Photo by Negative Space