Most of Montreal's theatre companies have been shuttered since March, when runs of shows were cancelled abruptly and artistic projects were put on hold due to the pandemic.
Now, with the arrival of the fall theatre season, many established companies are having to get creative when it comes to reaching audiences and welcoming people back into their spaces.
At the Centaur Theatre, this means making use of every last inch of available space, including outside.
"We're turning the theatre sort of inside out," said Eda Holmes, artistic and executive director of Centaur Theatre.
"The front of our building is really iconic and beautiful. It's the old stock exchange," Holmes told CBC's Daybreak.
The imposing grecian columns will be part of the set for six short plays that will be staged in the portico and on the front steps of the Centaur Theatre, in order to take advantage of the open air setting and last of the nice weather.
Starting Sept. 24, audiences will be invited to watch free of charge from marked out, physically distanced spots in the parking lot across from the building on Saint-François-Xavier Street in Old Montreal.
The plays are short — 10 to 20 minutes — so audience members are encouraged to either stand or bring folding chairs.
"I'm hoping it will feel very much like an outdoor festival," said Holmes.
Earlier this summer, the Centaur Theatre put out a call for new short works that could be performed outdoors and in accordance with public health restrictions.
They received 80 submissions, which they narrowed down to six along with some bonus events, including an interactive project from Boca del Lupo, a Vancouver theatre company.
Titled Red Phone, it requires two audience members to enter phone booths and read text off a Teleprompter, thus performing a short scene with one another.
The scenes were written by a host of Canadian playwrights responding to the prompt: "What is the most urgent conversation Canadians need to have right now?"
The other plays in the lineup vary in subject and style, from a one-woman storytelling performance to a vaudevillian circus show, and a sombre look at the human cost of the pandemic in Quebec.
Holmes said all of the short works selected "had a kind of fierce joy at the base of them that sort of tied them all together."
While the Centaur isn't yet ready to welcome audiences back inside, Holmes said she hopes the Portico Project will deliver a little of what theatre lovers have been missing.
"I'm looking for ways to give an audience a live experience that is still completely safe and completely compelling," she said.
The Portico Project at Montreal's Centaur Theatre will run Thursday to Sunday from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4. Admission is free but donations are accepted.