The performance that wasn’t

The show must go on. It’s a well-known adage. But on Thursday, local actors and crew at the Guild ignored it and cancelled a performance of…

The show must go on.

It’s a well-known adage.

But on Thursday, local actors and crew at the Guild ignored it and cancelled a performance of Problem Child after giving the seven-person audience a choice.

“They said they were happy to put it on,” said arts enthusiast Catherine Veale, who was one of the audience members.

“And they were generous about offering us another night — it was no problem at all.”

But there could have been people there who’d driven in from Haines Junction or something, said Problem Child actor George Maratos.

“Not everyone could come back. I had a friend there and this was the only night he could see it.”

In hindsight, the cast was disappointed it happened, said Maratos.

It is certainly not Guild policy, said artistic director Eric Epstein, who was shocked when he heard about the cancellation.

“It’s not necessarily written, but it follows theatre tradition — the actors are expected to go on,” he said.

But Epstein is sympathetic.

“When you get small audiences, morale can start to slip,” he said.

“But we have an obligation to everyone on the team and the audience.”

The production’s producer, director and Epstein were all absent the night the play didn’t run.

“And I’m sorry I wasn’t phoned,” said Epstein, who was attending another performance.

“It definitely won’t happen again.”

The actors are volunteers, he added.

“But they take on a huge responsibility when they commit to do a show.”

“I was pretty affected by (the cancellation),” said Maratos.

“We don’t get paid, we do it ‘cause we love it.

“Usually we only do 12 shows, and I wanted to do even more.”

Problem Child was already having a troubling run.

This month, the Guild staged two one-act plays by George F. Walker, Problem Child and Criminal Genius, both set in the seedy Suburban Motel.

But after successful opening night performances, one of the actors in Criminal Genius fell ill, and Problem Child had to run on its own.

The loss of the second play is going to hurt the Guild, said Epstein.

“We’ve had people get sick before, but usually we find a substitute.”

After missing four shows, Criminal Genius is running again, but box office numbers were compromised by the cancellations.

“We budget for a certain amount of box office sales and we’re probably not going to make it,” said Epstein.

For the single bill, the Guild charged two-thirds of the full ticket price, $12 instead of the original $18.

They also gave ticket holders a coupon offering 50 per cent off any upcoming performance.

The Guild couldn’t afford to just charge half-price for the single bill, and Epstein didn’t think it was necessary.

“It is a full evening of theatre, and if we’d put it on and charged $20, or $18, it wouldn’t have been outrageous,” he said.

“It’s hurting us in the bottom line, and we feel we’re giving good value at that money.”

Actors in the community have been working on Criminal Genius for more than four years, said Epstein.

And eventually, with help from the territory’s Arts Fund, they were able to stage the Open Door/Guild co-production.

Both shows run Wednesday through Saturday at the Guild Hall. Performances begin at 8 p.m.

A performance of Criminal Genius will also be staged as a single-bill Sunday at 8 p.m.