By Michael Smallwood, Charleston City Paper
“I think the principle that ‘the show must go on’ is a really important one that people cleave to,” said Anne Clarke, founder of Landmark Productions. After two years of that adage being proven wrong because of the effect of Covid-19 on the performing arts, this year’s Spoleto Festival USA has worked hard to ensure that each show does, in fact, go on.
Whether it was Omar’s blocking being minimized following an injury to lead Jamez McCorkle or the entire Ballet Encore program being reworked because of a dancer injury, the 2022 festival worked hard and quickly to ensure audiences saw a performance instead of a cancellation. For The Approach, which ran from May 30-June 12 at the Dock Street Theatre, that meant bringing in a surprising substitution to fill a role: College of Charleston student Delaney Faile.
Mark O’Rowe’s The Approach follows three women from Dublin as they have conversations that reveal their connections, their truths, and the history they’ve been hiding from each other. It’s an intricate dance of storytelling and character, told in exceptionally well-written scenes between two actors at a time. However, the Tuesday before opening night, Catherine Walker (who plays Cora) tested positive for Covid-19. Without an understudy, this meant the first three performances were necessarily canceled. But when Walker continued to test positive on Sunday, decisions needed to be made about what to do for the rest of the week’s shows.
“How on Earth can we avoid canceling?” Clarke asked. “Because I’m conscious that people travel for the festival and they book tickets in advance.” Landmark Productions, founded in 2003, has had to bring in replacement actors a handful of times in their 19 year history. Sending someone on to read the script so that the performance happens is industry standard in emergency situations, and the decision was made to do this until Walker tested negative and could go on.
Because Spoleto shows at the Dock Street Theatre run in rep (when a theater runs several different productions at the same time, switching between them each day), The Approach needed to keep its original tech rehearsal dates despite the opening night cancellations. For this tech rehearsal, they turned to Delaney Faile, a Charleston native currently studying arts management and theatre performance. Faile was also a Spoleto Artist Services apprentice, providing everything from transportation services to Covid tests. She had met O’Rowe and the team earlier in the week at an event with other CofC students.
To learn more about Delaney Faile’s impromptu performance, check out the full article by Michael Smallwood in Charleston City Paper. Photo by Ruta Smith.