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Weather takes a toll on Perchance Theatre

The canvas sails at Perchance Theatre were recently victims of some heavy winds. Now, the theatre is looking to replace them with some vinyl sails.
The canvas sails at Perchance Theatre were recently victims of some heavy winds. Now, the theatre is looking to replace them with some vinyl sails. - GoFundMe

Fundraising underway for new sails after old ones ripped apart by strong winds

CUPIDS, N.L. — Perchance Theatre is hoping to replace what was lost to some harsh Newfoundland weather.

Perchance Theatre in Cupids boasts an outdoor stage, where their loyal audience can gather in a horseshoe shape to view the practiced stage performances that take place at the building. Thanks to nine separate sails, these outdoor plays are often not bothered by the scattered bit of rain or wind, however, Mother Nature had something to prove a few weeks ago when heavy winds managed to rip through the canvas sails that usually block out such weather.

Now, thanks to the unfortunate turn of events, the theatre has taken to the internet, and the good will of those who would otherwise be enjoying the shows, to help repair the sails which are a vital part of the performances on days when heavy clouds fill the sky instead of sunshine.

Danielle Irvine is Perchance Theatre's artistic director.
Danielle Irvine is Perchance Theatre's artistic director.

Danielle Irvine, artistic director for the theatre, spoke with The Compass about the importance of the sails, the fundraiser the theatre has put together, and the future of the currently irreparable sails.

“The sails go up and down every year, but of course, they’re aging. We were under the impression that we could get one more season out of them,” she said. “The winds were so strong, however, that it actually ripped the main sail … It’s completely shredded, ripped right down the middle. The other sails are all damaged as well, so, we of course need to repair them. It was a major blow.”

Irvine explained that the theatre originally planned to look into new sails as they prepared for the next season, but this turn of events means that the non-profit group has to not only work on their performances, but also work on finding a means of replacing the sails this year instead of next, which is estimated to cost approximately $9,000 to $10,000.

“We need it, because it keeps the rain off the actors and the audience, so it’s a very important feature,” she said.

Since the incident, Perchance Theatre has managed to get one sail repaired, leaving them with eight more to replace. This sail is made of vinyl, which Irvine says is a bit of an upgrade to the canvas sails of before. These vinyl sails are water-proof, doesn’t do as much flapping in the wind, and come with a longer lifespan of around 15-20 years.

Irvine added that all of the new sails will be made of this material now, as the theatre hopes to avoid repeating this scenario again in the near future.

This past weekend, the theatre opened their first show, with plans to open the second and third shows on the weekends of July 14 and July 21 respectively. If weather permits, and the rain stays away, the theatre will be able to go ahead with these plans. If not, Irvine said the sails are too full of holes to keep heavy rains away, and will ultimately result in the cancellation of these shows.

She says the sooner the sails are replaced, the better the theatre’s chances are of moving forward with their schedule.

Perchance Theatre has since set up a gofundme page, where people are able to donate to the fundraiser, and help the theatre replace the important part of their stage. As of Tuesday afternoon, July 10, the gofundme page has raised just over $2,100 – about a fifth of their $10,000 goal in less than a week.

On top of this, the main sail – which suffered the brunt of the damage – has been taken down and stowed away, and will be used as a prize piece for a raffle. Irvine explained that the sail will be cut up into small squares, and an artist will take to each piece, creating a quilt that showcases all the different plays Perchance Theatre has performed in the past, each with their own square on the quilt.

“We’re going to turn the art cover into a cover of art, and try to make something positive out of the situation” Irvine said of the quilt.

For those looking to help with the fundraiser, Perchance Theatre’s Gofundme page can be visited at https://www.gofundme.com/set-sails-on-the-season.

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chris.lewis@cbncompass.ca

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