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Inspiring Artists: Summer productions cancelled, YES Theatre lent its talents to the food bank

You may be missing YES Theatre’s summer festival right about now — they promise it’ll return next year
The cast of YES Theatre’s “Mamma Mia!” are seen here in 2019. (File)

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant hard times for local artists, with summer festivals and performances cancelled.

Even with Greater Sudbury entering Stage 3 reopening, and the province giving the green light for performance venues to reopen, it remains to be seen how the local arts scene will adapt — although artists have already been doing plenty of that during the pandemic.

Given the unusual situation, we decided to put the spotlight on local creators of all kinds this summer, whether they’re musicians, actors, filmmakers, authors or fine artists. Many have been putting out new work amid the pandemic.

If you’re a fan of Sudbury’s YES Theatre, you’re probably missing its summer theatre festival right about now.

The local theatre company was supposed to put on “A Chorus Line” and Disney’s “Newsies” concurrently from July 10 to Aug. 2, but were forced to cancel the 2020 summer season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

YES Theatre has now bumped the two productions to its 2021 season.

The troupe’s founder, Alessandro Costantini, said he still has all of the relevant deadlines for the two productions marked on his dayplanner.

“When those come up I think ‘Oh boy, this would be the most stressful week of my life, and here I am, reading a book in my backyard,’” he said.

Costantini promises YES Theatre’s summer theatre festival will be back next summer. 

He’s hopeful that there will be “some semblance of normalcy” in the theatre scene in Northern Ontario by summer 2021, and even if the troupe can’t return to traditional theatre, it will find innovative ways to ensure the community has access to arts and culture.

“We’re also planning some additional programming things for next summer, which will be really, really wonderful,” he said.

While Costantini talks about catching up on his reading this summer, it’s not all leisure time for him. He said the troupe is spending some time on strategic planning.

“I’m really excited about where we’re going,” he said.

“We actually had a bit of a retreat with a number of our core artists last week, and did a whole bunch of strategic planning about our programming for the future, and our goals and dreams and aspirations.”

Costantini said with Thorneloe cancelling its theatre program, YES Theatre is looking at stepping up the training aspect of the organization.

But COVID-19 hasn’t only meant planning time for YES Theatre. Back in May, the troupe organized a livestreamed telethon featuring performances by the local arts community which raised $12,000 for the Sudbury Food Bank.

“It was an incredible evening,” Costantini said. “It was so wonderful that we were able to all come together in a way that we really never had before in the city and contribute to something so special.That’s the magic of online.”

Also this past spring, YES Theatre released a video on its Facebook page of its artists singing the song “Bring Me to Light” from the show “Violet,” which the company produced in 2018. The video was also featured on Greater Sudbury’s virtual Canada Day show.

“It was a bit of a fitting thing, during these precarious times,” Costantini said. “It was really beautiful. We’re hoping to do more of those as well, to try and get our ducks in a row.”

If you or someone you know has a project you think we should write about with our “Inspiring Artists” feature, email us at Be sure to include contact information.