Did you know that July is named after Julius Caesar, I suppose it is obvious. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar wasn’t part of the National Theatre at Home season that has been running over the last 16 weeks, but I hope that you managed to catch something that you enjoyed – there certainly was a lot of choice. Here you can find their message of thanks to everyone who watched and donated.
Here endeth the history lesson.
Now to the business of making theatre ourselves. With uncertainty still very much prevalent in the arts sector, particularly around social distancing in theatre buildings and the safety of cast members, I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at one of the alternatives, outdoor performance. Some of you will have tried this to varying degrees from performing small sketches at local events to large scale productions in collaboration with local partners. Re-imagined Battlefields, magical forests and comedy troupes have been presented outdoors for many years throughout the history of performance. But, what does it take to do this in the 21st century. I spoke to Richard Nisbet from Shakespeare at Traquair, one of our member clubs who specialise in outdoor promenade performances, about their experiences
I have an additional resource sheet available for anyone thinking about this for a future production, please contact me on email@example.com and I can send you a copy.
The Scottish Government have not yet given a date for resuming Live performance (outdoors). Phase 3 only states not before 31 July 2020. Please find a link here However, I still thought I would look for some examples of events that you might find inspiring.
A company called Slung Low based in Leeds transformed a car park to provide entertainment for local families. Interesting use of a flatbed truck and the way they created the audience space in the parking bays. Take a look here.
Illyria are an outdoor theatre touring company based in England who have just announced an extensive tour of The Wind in the Willows starting 10 August and it makes me wonder how involved they have to be in audience social distancing – maybe that is the sole responsibility of the venues?
Have you heard of Handlebards? No, neither had I until now. Great concept – Shakespeare being cycled across the country – resuming activities in August and September.
These are examples of stripped back productions that are flexible and not too heavy on set and props – is that the way forward in the short term?
Whichever way you look at it, we are unlikely to see a plethora of outdoor performances in the next couple of months. Even setting aside the sheer amount of work it takes to meet all of the health and safety considerations, including any new Covid related ones and the weather as we move from summer in Autumn, licences take some time to go through local channels and the logistics make it completely unrealistic. So, maybe it’s something you are considering for next year – plenty of time to do your homework.
In terms of getting the cast ready for outdoor performance, the advice I have received from some directors I have spoken to seems to be ‘think bigger’ – if you think it, you can do it.
It’s what I’ve been saying for years, bigger really is better.
I tried to tie in the feel good moment to the theme of performing outdoors, I did toy with the iconic number from Singing in the Rain but in the spirit of positivity here is my choice this week
Stay Safe, Stay Connected and Be Creative
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