Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

As local businesses, schools and social gatherings face cancellations in response to the COVID-10 pandemic, major sports organizations have also been braving turbulent changes.

The four major national sports in North America — basketball, baseball, hockey and football — have all been greatly affected by the virus. The original plan was to have games continue, but not allow fans or unnecessary personnel near games.

In theory, this was a great idea; it would have allowed for play to continue and the multi-billion dollar industry to continue creating some revenue, such as through television ads. However, when the first pro athlete, Rudy Gobert, the center for the Utah Jazz, contracted the virus, this idea went out the window along with any hope of play to continue. After the NBA cancelled games, the rest of the sports world soon followed suit.

As the days progress, more professional athletes are testing positive for COVID-19. This has been attributed to athletes' consistent travels from city to city for games and practices, which makes them more susceptible to contracting the virus and spreading it. 

It has been suggested that the best way to mitigate exposure and transmission of the virus is for athletes to restrict travel and self-quarantine. 

When I read the reports of the National Basketball Association postponing its season for a minimum of 30 days, subject to change depending on the future state of the virus, and the National College Athletics Association ending all of its national tournaments for the year, I wondered how this may affect Canadian university sports. As updates and articles shared information about major sports leagues, the Ontario University Athletics and U Sports had yet to release statements on how they were going to factor the coronavirus into their decision-making.

University and college cancellations across Ontario began on March 12 and 13 with Western University, McMaster University, Mohawk College and others cancelling in-person classes and student events for the remainder of the semester. The U Sports association then followed suit, cancelling that weekends’ scheduled national championships in volleyball and hockey, but continuing with the curling championships.

U Sports’ championships require competing varsity teams to travel to chosen host locations. The volleyball championship was set to take place in Winnipeg and Calgary over the weekend of March 14 to 16 and the hockey championships to take place in Halifax and Charlottetown over that same weekend. 

Both of these tournaments were expecting teams from across the country to attend, from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island. This potentially heightened the risk of spreading the virus. To limit the spread of COVID-19, Canadians have been advised to avoid international non-essential travel; while the travel measures announced on March 16 did not include domestic flights, the situation is continuously changing from day to day. Recently, airlines such as Air Canada began suspending domestic flights. 

This begs the question of why the U Sports National Championships for curling were not cancelled. This tournament involved universities from all over the country such as McMaster University, University of Dalhousie and the University of Alberta, and took place the very same weekend as the aforementioned volleyball and hockey tournaments. 

At the time of writing this article, U Sports had yet to post any material on their social media to answer those questions or comment on why they made contradictory decisions to cancel volleyball and hockey tournaments, while continuing the curling championships. 

After having reached out to U Sports for a statement, John Bower of U Sports stated that the curling championships had been in line with government regulations at the time.

The total number of participants in the Curling championship was inferior to the 250 established by the Government of Manitoba on Thursday and therefore was allowed by the Province to continue and had begun prior to the cancellation of the hockey and volleyball championships,” said Bower. 

It is important to keep in mind that the volleyball championships, which were also planned to take place in Manitoba, and the hockey championships in Prince Edward Island were cancelled.

The following was the response to my questions about their tournament handlings:

As stated by Bower from U Sports.

While these precautions seemed to be adequate at the time of the curling tournament’s start date on March 10, the tournament would go on to see play for another five days. All the players and potential companions travelled in and out of the province over this time. 

The representative from U Sports said that Curling Canada was able to guarantee a safe and secure environment for the curling championships to take place. As we have seen the pandemic continue to spread, it seems that it would have been very difficult to guarantee anything. The tournament should have been shut down.

The U Sports national championships was not alone in the building. The event coincided with the Senior Men’s and Women’s Championships, the Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Championships and the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA)/Curling Canada Championships. 

The amount of people at any given time in the arena might have been under the mandated 250 person limit, but this limit became quickly outdated as the Centre for Disease Control lowered the limit to no more than 50 people just one day after the tournament finished on March 16. Considering the curling teams, general fans and family members that were in attendance, it is unlikely that this limit was adhered to during the tournament. 

The first red flag was that this tournament was continued while the other national tournaments were cancelled. The second red flag was that there was no postponing or cancelling as the tournament progressed. Just as COVID-19 spread across the country, the red flags spread across this event. 

 

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By: Vanessa Polojac

From Nov. 10 to the 18, Peter Cockett’s Theatre and Film class hold the world premiere of Barbara Fuch’s English translation of Women and Servants.

Women and Servants, written by famous Spanish playwright Lope De Vega, has been lost for over 400 years.

But in 2014, University of California at Los Angeles English professor Barbara Fuchs rediscovered the manuscript hidden at the back of a library while vacationing in Madrid.

The Fall Major Production is a yearly event held at McMaster. It is a required for the students in Theatre and Film 3S06 to be a part of the play although casting is open to all undergraduate and graduate students at the university. This is the first year the production will be held in L.R. Wilson Hall. The building offers many innovative areas for the crew to work with.

“This building is an enormous step-up and improvement from the Robinson Memorial Theatre,” explained Cockett.

“One of the many new elements that the L.R. Wilson building has is a trampoline grid for the lighting. Usually in other buildings there would need to be a 50-foot ladder that is much less sufficient.”

Women and Servants was chosen by Cockett when doing research and planning for the Theatre and Film program in the spring.

When approaching Women and Servants in the fall production class, Cockett and his students were all captivated by the excessive emotions of the men in the play and the comparatively calm intuition of the women, whose actions drive the plot.

“The research was about the performance of gender on European stages in the 1600s. The questions that were asked were asked in my research were: what did the boys learn from the female performers? In what ways were the boys different from the female performers? How were the women performing femininity? In the summer I went to a press conference where I met Barbara and we related these questions to Women and Servants. This is when I concluded we had to put on this production,” said Cockett.

When holding the open casting calls, Cockett and his class didn’t cast people strictly based on their gender identities. Cockett wanted audience members not to be able to assume what characters are based on their actors’ identity alone.

“While this would have been extremely unlikely in Lope de Vega’s world, it is more familiar to us today, and that has added advantage of reminding us that these are performers who are making choices about how to play the radicalized, class and gender roles assigned to their characters,” said Cockett.

Even though the play was written in the early 1600s, there is a feminist theme that is evidently portrayed throughout the plot.

The protagonists, sisters Luciana and Violante, take control of their own love lives and fate despite their assigned roles in a patriarchal society. The playwright reverses the hierarchy by having the servants, who are expected to be loyal, go against their masters for their own personal desires.

“The play investigates the social relationships of past societies. The playwright reveals the 16th century society to be more complex and less conservative than we might be inclined to imagine,” explained Cockett.   

Cockett, along with assistant directors Toni Holmes and Pricilla Lou, hope to introduce the idea, radical in its day, that one’s social identity is something that is performed rather than given.

“There was a time when we were considering an all-female cast. We were breaking down the male characters and how they were reducing stereotypical male roles and that’s why we chose to stick with male actors,” said Holmes.

“Our performance celebrates our relative freedom to be who we desire to be, and love who we desire to love, but also, in its playful way, it asks us to consider the enduring influence social power structures have on the free expression of love,” added Cockett.

Cockett hopes that audiences will enjoy the mischief and antics of these once lost characters and uses their story as an opportunity to explore historical and contemporary questions about gender performance.

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Jemma Wolfe

Senior ANDY Editor

Andrea Pohlmann has a lot on her plate this term. This first-time director is in charge of two shows premiering in early 2012 – The Importance of Being Earnest and Into the Woods – two drastically different but equally fantastic plays that have her more excited than nervous about the responsibility of getting these productions on their feet.

The Importance of Being Earnest is the first play of the New Year in the world of McMaster theatre. Pohlmann is directing for the McMaster Thespian Company, a well-respected MSU club that is known for its revivals of classical Elizabethan and Victorian works. Now in its ninth season, McMaster Thespian Company’s decision to stage Oscar Wilde’s iconic work was something Pohlmann was very excited to hear about.

The Importance of Being Earnest follows Mr. John Worthing, a Victorian gentleman with a secret – he leads a double life under the alias of Ernest Worthing. Worthing’s dual identity gets complicated when his nosy best friend Algernon Moncrieff discovers his secret and tries to use it to his advantage to woo Worthing’s charming ward Cecily.

Meanwhile Worthing, desperately in love with aristocratic Gwendolen, must struggle to keep up with his double life in order to win the hand of the woman he loves. The ensuing chaos is a witty satire of repressed Victorian society and a hilarious romp through the eternal issues of male/female courtship. As Pohlmann says, “there are family issues and there are romantic issues, but it’s also just so funny.”

Pohlmann is mostly sticking to conventions with TIOBE, which aligns with her self-identified classicist style, but admits she is taking some directorial risks. Accents will be used, as well as some gags that are being kept hush-hush, but that Pohlmann promises will bring big laughs. The element of scandal in the play is also something she’s interested in emphasizing, starting with promotional posters that feature her cast in the nude. “Yes, we’ve seen The Importance of Being Earnest, but we haven’t seen The Importance of Being Earnest like this,” she explained.

While the actual production will see the actors fully clothed, this edgy marketing brings a modern twist to an old classic steeped in Victorian-era sexual tension and social scandal – themes Pohlmann points out to be incredibly timeless: “Everyone wants to watch people fall in love.”

In regards to casting, “I got really, really lucky,” Pohlmann enthused. Her production showcases known names in the McMaster theatre scene, including Sarah Granger, Grant Winestock, Harrison Cruikshank and featuring Jimmy Skembaris in traditional drag as Lady Bracknell. “I’ve been excited about interacting with the cast and helping them grow as actors as well as helping them grow as characters,” she said, “and now I’m most excited about watching it come to life.”

“[When you] come see the show what you’re going to see is as if I had taken my heart out of my chest and put it on stage and let it beat for you.” Passionate words from a passionate director.

The Importance of Being Earnest plays January 19th, 20th, 21st at the Robinson Memorial Theatre (CNH 103, McMaster), and January 26th, 27th, 28th at the Baltimore House (43 King William St., Hamilton).

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