When I was a kid, we went to movies in the afternoons – they were called matinees, which is a bit of misnomer because the French root of the word – matin – means ‘morning.’
I didn’t go to many – maybe even any – plays as a young person, but as I grew up, I grew to love the theatre as much as the movies. When I lived in Dubai and travelled back and forth to Canada once or twice a year, I would often stop overnight in London and take in a show coming and going. I usually went to evening performances because of the flight timings.
I returned to Canada in 2011 to care for my mom who lived with dementia. She died in 2016. In 2018, I chose to relocate to Almonte, Ontario, partly because of its vibrant arts community and the fact that it is a relatively small town where most amenities are within walking distance.
Since coming here, I have volunteered for several local music and performing arts organizations including Almonte in Concert, Celtfest, PuppetsUp! and, most recently for a musical fundraiser for the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum. The latter production is called Spinning Yarns: The Millworkers’ Musical.
Which brings me back to matinees.
I have come to love matinees. Eclectic musical matinees such as those I go to regularly at MERA in McDonalds Corners (where the old schoolhouse doesn’t hold more than forty people), and classical music matinees such as those offered by Almonte in Concert (where audiences average around two hundred).
I love matinees because, now that I’m in my late sixties (sigh), I have more energy in the afternoons than in the evenings (and sometimes I think the performers do too). Plus, I don’t have to drive in the dark, which I have been avoiding for almost a decade due to vision issues.
When I began with Spinning Yarns: The Millworkers’ Musical, I wasn’t surprised to learn that three of our six shows are matinees. I asked our producer, Barb Dickson, if she had any thoughts to share on why that is. She wrote back in an email:
“Our audience members are aging. Overall they are less comfortable driving at night, so matinee performances are more accessible for them,” she wrote. “They may combine a show with an early lunch or a coffee afterwards. This makes it a social occasion they can wrap up in time to travel home before it gets dark.
“This also holds true for people who come to Almonte from Ottawa and other locales around us. They often prefer not to drive on country roads in the dark because of deer and other road hazards.”
Further, for family friendly shows such as Spinning Yarns, matinees don’t interfere with children’s mealtimes and bedtimes. My guess is that our production is suitable for children ten and over.
The proof of the increasing popularity of matinees may be seen in the pattern of tickets sold for our production. Our tickets went on sale six weeks ago and the first of the three matinees was also the first of our six shows to sell out. As I write this, the other two afternoon performances (November 19 and November 26) are also selling well only three weeks before the show opens on November 17.
I bought tickets for opening night as well as for two of the matinees. I have guests coming from quite a distance to attend with me. I can’t wait to see them AND to see the performances — especially the matinees!
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