‘Icara’ took flight with a socially-distanced audience

Tiresias Theatre makes its debut at the Tett Centre

Siobhan McMahon (left) and Dr. Bill Morrow (right) co-starred in the production.

A gender-reversed retelling of the story of Icarus debuted at the Tett Centre Sept. 15.

Icara starred Siobhan McMahon, ArtSci ’22, and former Queen’s University professor Dr. Bill Morrow. It was the inaugural production of Tiresias Theatre, a new Kingston production company.

Inspired by the mythological story of the boy who flew too close to the sun, writer and director Ned Dickens reimagined the myth as a father-daughter relationship. The play revolves around Daedalus, a great inventor, attempting to save his daughter’s life before her gender is discovered and she’s sacrificed.

This is one of the few theatrical productions that have taken place in person since COVID-19 struck; the cast and crew of the show implemented social distancing between audience members, capping the number of individuals allowed in the theatre at 40.

In an interview with The Journal, McMahon, who played the titular character of Icara, reflected on her performance and the experience of putting on a show in the middle of a pandemic.

“It was a really interesting show, and the whole play is written in verse. There’s no exact meter to it, but it definitely put the emphasis on being perfect with your words,” she said.

McMahon said the major differences between performing in this show and shows pre-COVID-19 was the relationship between actors and the audience.

“The only thing that messed with me as an actor was being so close to the audience but not being able to see their facial expressions because of the masks,” she said. “There was less playing off the audience, and in many ways, the sense of anonymity reminded me of performing for a much larger audience.”

McMahon suggested this newfound reality had a positive impact on her and Morrow’s performances.

“The two of us really had to rely on each other’s energy more than we usually would have, and this only helped our performances.”

Since the cast was only comprised of two actors, a stage manager, and director, safety was a manageable priority for the team. The distance between seats was measured to ensure a safe distance between spectators, and after every performance, seats were cleaned and sanitized.

Before the in-person performances, however, the cast’s rehearsal process was stunted by COVID-19. The show was initially set to premiere at the Baby Grand Theatre in April, but by that time quarantine was in effect.

“The rehearsal process was really jumbled,” McMahon said. “Everything got shut down before we could perform, and we had no idea if we could do the show anymore. Over the summer, my director contacted us and we started doing rehearsals over Zoom until everyone was back in Kingston.”

McMahon said the cast went through many stages in planning a performance, considering the options of shutting the show down altogether, having an online show, or pushing the performance back until measures were lifted.

This also impacted her experience with getting into character.

“Because of the rehearsal process, we had to do a lot of work on our own to understand the script and get into it,” McMahon said.

Despite the uncertainty leading up to the actual performances, the cast and crew had a successful run of Icara, with its verse and themes of gender lighting up the stage from September 15-19.


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