Sudbury Theatre Centre uses downtime to craft face mask kits during pandemic

The Sudbury Theatre Centre may have temporarily closed its doors because of COVID-19, but it’s still finding a way to contribute to the community during the pandemic.

A group of volunteers are making face mask kits to give to Health Sciences North and long term care homes.

An STC board member and a former employee started the campaign. Anita Ansamaa has been making up the kits, which include everything the volunteers need, including fabric from previous productions.

“It’s leftover … it’s almost an adventure for me, because the last time I worked here was in November. But before that it was 10 years ago — and I’m pulling rolls of fabric out of our stock and saying, ‘Oh I remember this … I think it was curtains. Was this a costume? I think it was’,” she said.

“So it’s a nice little walk down memory lane.”

A creative outlet for creative people

They are using the cotton fabric they have in stock. Ansamaa said there are 115 volunteers and they’ve each made at least 15 mask kits. The kits include material, ties or elastic and the pattern.

Putting the kits together has been a good outlet for those usually involved in theatre productions, she said.

“Theatre people, in general, are creative across the board — whether they volunteer in the front of house or just attend the shows. There’s something about live theatre and music that just bring creative people together. There are so many people right now who have these skills that just want to use them.”

Currently they are delivering the mask packages to keep contact to a minimum.

“Our artistic director and our administrative director are both doing our deliveries for us,” Ansamaa said.

“One does one end of the city and the other does the other. We’ve offered pickup if people require pickup.”

Anita Ansamaa has been making up the face mask kits at the Sudbury Theatre Centre. The kits include everything people need to make a mask, complete with fabric from previous productions. (Zacharie Routhier/Radio-Canada)

While the theatre centre has plenty of fabric on hand, the are having trouble with finding enough elastic.

“We ran out of elastic with the first batch,” she said. “There seems to be none left in the city. I think there’s some people that are still ordering it and getting it in, but everybody’s running out.”

But they’ve found a workaround: “We have bias tape for finishing blankets and sweaters and that sort of thing. So we’ve been cutting that into strips for the mask ties.”

Ansamaa said the project has “been wonderful [and] it’s been wonderful to be busy.” And there are many people in the community who are thrilled to be able to put their sewing skills to good use.

“I even had a lady say that she wanted something to do so she could avoid her husband,” she said with a laugh. “That was so funny and unexpected … I knew there were people who could help.”

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