World Theatre Day – Digital Lockdown Highlights

Theatre you might have missed.

By Luis Gonzales
Icon Theatre Intern placement, from University of Kent

As we commiserate a year of lockdowns (yes, you read that right, a year) it is important that we look back and don’t be too harsh on ourselves. Whilst it seems that 2021 may finally bring some relief and normality back into our lives, the past year has been a really strange one, where we’ve all just done what we could to not go crazy and keep ourselves and our families happy.

So, whether you took life in lockdown by the scruff of its neck and flourished; picked up six new skills and started an Esty store; or you ordered way too much takeaway and have effectively seen all there is to see on Netflix, you’re great and should be proud of yourself for getting through it all.

(I’m the latter by the way).                       

Our productivity might have fluctuated, but it feels the arts were still with us, adapting and strong as ever! Whilst I’m dying to get my bum back in a plush red seat of any auditorium that’ll have methere are theatre companies that have been able to create and produce fantastic pieces of work during lockdown which, I’m here to share with you now.

Whilst the following list highlight some smaller-scale companies and artists, who’s work you might’ve missed, be make sure to also check out The National Theatre and Old Vic’s websites too for some excellent ‘stream-able’ theatre (available for a small donation that goes to charity).

So, without further ado, here are some excellent and innovative theatre pieces produced over lockdown that I enjoyed, between reciting Star Wars scenes with my Alexa and acting as if today’s the day I was going on that run I’ve been thinking about…!

Lockdown Theatre Company

The first collective that deserve to be shown some love are the aptly named Lockdown Theatre Company. The name is no coincidence as the company were created to produce entertainment during lockdown and provide paying work for actors in a time where there is very little opportunity for them in the industry. This is such a simple yet generous sentiment which really deserves acknowledgement. Their YouTube channel boasts a series of twenty pieces of theatre starring twenty different performers. The actors are fantastic and the performances intimate and raw.

Artistic Director, Rohan Candappa, has done a fantastic job creating scripts and coordinating great productions, not to mention that the first video was released a day after lockdown was enforced on the 24th March 2020 which, is testament to the company.

They are currently producing a podcast too!

Watch here

The Space Between

Perhaps the largest scale production on this list, The Space Between is a beautiful fifteen-minute mini-musical about a couple separated by lockdown and how it has become a difficult time for communication for them.

Starring West End performer David Hunter and Singer/Songwriter Caroline Kay there is no shortage of talent in this piece and admittedly, I found myself becoming wildly invested in this fictional relationship in just the fifteen minutes given. The work was created to encourage people to donate and support the arts, with the soundtrack available for streaming as well.

Watch here

Tales from the Front Line… And Other Stories
Talawa Theatre Company

Tales from the Front Line… And other Stories documents the contribution of Black workers at the front line of the Covid-19 crisis. These pieces were produced by Talawa Theatre Company and are created using verbatim interviews from real black key workers. There are currently four videos available on their YouTube channel and more coming soon, each lasting up to fifteen minutes. Not only are these videos beautifully shot and performed, but they are also relevant and poignant, and the company have done a great job at representing these important voices. I can’t recommend this series enough.

Watch here

User Not Found
Dante or Die

User Not Found is a fantastic piece of immersive theatre created by Dante or Die, a site-specific theatre company. This piece is incredibly intimate, as it encourages you to watch on a phone with headphones, and the video appears as if you are looking at the same phone screen that the speaker/narrator is also using as they speak to you; showcasing a brilliantly innovative way to connect with audiences despite the distance.

I won’t spoil too much, but to give a gentle trigger warning, the piece explores the grieving of a loved one and takes an existential dive into what it means to be human and what we leave behind.

Watch here

Theatre31 is currently working with Dante or Die on an engagement project with Will Adams Centre. Check out how the podcast project, Morpheus, is coming along in co-creation with the young people.

This list should keep you entertained for at least a few hours and hopefully, it has introduced you to some hidden gems you didn’t know about. If I were you, spread your viewing across a few days and who knows, maybe that’ll last until we’re out of lockdown.

Or at least up until the beginning of the next. Kidding…hopefully.

By Luis Gonzales
Icon Theatre Intern placement, from University of Kent

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