Community Connection


Here we are with the 4th news blog.  How has your week been?  Did anyone use any of the recommendations from last week? 

I had my first cuppa and a chat online meeting today and it was great to see some familiar faces from different parts of Scotland.  I am planning to make it a regular occurrence so look out for that.

I feel like I am slowly getting into my rhythm now and starting to collect my own thoughts about what we can/should offer you at a National level.  This has been helped by an unexpected opportunity that came along this week.  Through my contacts at Voluntary Arts Scotland I was connected with someone at BBC Radio Scotland – they want to put together a piece about communities in Scotland and were very interested in how drama clubs are responding to the current situation.  With very little time to collect information I put an urgent call out on Facebook and 16 clubs have been in touch to tell me about the wonderful breadth of creative activity going on.  This is so useful as it has enabled me to 

  • Open up the conversation with the BBC hopefully leading to a broadcast about our community
  • Share some of the information here for other clubs
  • Hone down my own plans so that I am not duplicating what is happening locally


I’ll let you know when it will be broadcast if the BBC project gets off the ground.

In order to provide you with a brief summary of everything happening I have rewritten the words to the Modern Major General song from Pirates of Penzance (for anyone who doesn’t know the song here is a link to a clip from the film version – it starts about 2.5 minutes in)

orchestra starts..

There’s reading plays and learning songs and dressing up in fancy dress

There’s watching shows that stream online and quizzes where you take a guess

There’s building props and learning lines and painting where you make a mess

And everybody’s grateful when they meet online, (short hold of breath) well more or less

In short in matters drama with the amateur societies we’re using being playful to respond to our anxieties

huge round of applause!


I have also discovered that whilst some clubs would like to hold play reading events they are not sure how to get started or where to find plays.  So, I have created a guide which I am putting up in a separate blog on the website.  I am very happy to help a club get started if you get in touch – although I am still wearing ‘L’ plates I am getting lots of practice.

Recommendations for this week..

Sardines, the magazine for amateur theatre, are publishing a weekly newsletter called Lockdown with lots of interesting articles and links.  If you want to subscribe here’s a link to their website.

Online tutorials

Has anyone taken any of the classes on  There are some big names from film and television.  Some of them are more focused on acting for camera but the Helen Mirren one for instance covers acting for stage.  They have a time limited subscription offer on at the moment so it may be worth a look here

On the subject of taking online courses, did you know that the Open University has over 1000 free online courses?  I plan to start with Approaching Plays but they cover such a wide range of topics that I am sure there will be something for everyone.  Here is the link

Who’s visited the Social Distancing Festival?  This is such an eclectic mix of cultural activity from across the world – maybe you have something you would like to contribute?  I try to dip in for a short pick-me-up – you can find it here

That’s me signing off now so that I can go and work on plans to launch my first online workshop for SCDA.

Stay Safe, Stay Connected and Be Creative



Although every care has been taken by SCDA in the recommendation of these resources, they exist on external servers outwith the control of SCDA and they have not been subject to detailed evaluation. Accordingly no guarantee is given by SCDA as to their suitability. SCDA shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising by virtue of accessing these links.



Here we are, week 3 already of Community Connection.   What have you been doing since last week.  No, seriously that is a real question. I have no idea if anyone is reading my musings so please leave me a comment – even it is a single word or sentence to let me know that you are with me.

Clip Art Confused

Is anyone else beginning to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things online.  I have a feeling of guilt sometimes that by now I should have started to learn a new language, knitted a spaceship and painted every wall in my flat. That’s despite the fact that I am still working full time across both my jobs even though I am home-based. In this weekly missive I try to limit the number of things (believe me I could triple it without even blinking) so that I don’t add to that burden.  I am curious to know if anyone looked at the YouTube video with the learning lines technique?  I want to know if it works…

Ones to watch this week

Exciting News!! Get Creative have launched their website this week and, surprise surprise, it’s gone digital.   With lots of information about how to run an event this is the only toolkit you will need.  All activities must be free or low cost.  Charging people to participate can only be justified if there are costs to be met for instance for materials, digital related costs or staff such as artists.   Here’s the link Another exciting element to this community based National event is the partnership with the BBC – it will be included in their Culture in Quarantine programming.  Take a look at the range of things already on offer as well as what is coming up – your event could appear here

Here’s another website with ideas for people who want to create local events to connect the community – could be useful if you want to participate in Get Creative.  There are resources and suggestions for things you could do now and also for when we are able to physically reconnect again.  Here’s the link

If you want to keep you finger on the pulse as and when new releases come on line for viewing may be a good one for you 

Cypress Avenue is a hard hitting play currently being offered by the Royal Court Theatre which I saw recommended by a member of an SCDA club in Edinburgh.  It was directed by Vicky Featherstone who used to be the Artistic Director of National Theatre of Scotland before moving to the Royal Court.  There is a content warning on the website so it may not be for everyone but take a look and see if it is your cup of tea.

Here’s the link

Any Alfie Bow fans out there?  He will be performing in a concert from home via the Albert Hall on Sunday 12 April so this weekend.  It’s free but I suggest that you follow this link and click on the Notify Me button. 

See the source image

Finally, here’s a motivational article on how to use the current limitations as a way to clear the old and bring in the new.  Be brave and don’t worry about this being the time of the ‘best’ work for our audiences but the time for something new and different. 

***BIG NEWS*** I am planning to launch one of my workshops online in the coming weeks – starting with Say What You Mean and Mean What you Say focusing on monologues!  Watch out for the announcement as you will need to sign up if you want to take part – it will only be available to SCDA club or individual members. 


Stay Safe, Stay Connected and Be Creative



An ‘almost technophobe’ view of online tools by Carole Williams

How quickly the world has changed for us.  We are having to upskill very quickly to find a way into this online world.  Those of us that are cautious (I didn’t use a contactless card until quite recently)  are having to become fearless risk takers.
As someone that tends to buy kitchen white goods with the smallest number of programmes, based on my experience of generally using the same 2 or 3 all the time, I have had to dive in and start swimming.  Both of my jobs need me to be responsive so that I can support others. 
I thought some people might find it useful for an almost but not quite technophobe like myself to share what I have discovered so far.
There are various ways you can connect for online meet-ups whether they are social, hobby related or work. Before you use anything I recommend you do some research to see what people are saying about any tools that you are thinking of using.  You need to stay safe online so a secure internet connection is essential.  You might also want to look at a website like this to read up on how to keep yourself and your data safe for peace of mind
 Here’s a couple that I have been using with some links to more information
A lot of people have heard of this one and it is very commonly used.  Free to get and to use I have found it a really good way to keep in touch and I know some other SCDA folk who regularly use it to stay in touch with friends and family who live far away.  There are some tutorials on the homepage if you scroll down and once you have called someone their details are easily retrieved for future calls.  There doesn’t appear to be a limit on the duration of the call but there is a limit of 100 hours per month.  Tony Flisch, SCDA Chair, and myself have our staff meetings on Skype each week and it works well for us.
This is proving very popular and has gone viral since remote working and the lockdown became part of everyday life.  Again it is free to get and free to use.  You can hold large meetings and there is quite a lot of flexibility on it.  There is a limit of 40 minutes per call usually but this appears to be waived for some users at the moment.  However if you call from a large organisation they may enforce this limit and some are even being blocked unless they subscribe to the paid package.  There are some nice backgrounds that you can use to make it look like you are somewhere else such as a desert island.  I’ve attended a few zoom meetings but haven’t set one up myself yet although I am hatching some future plans for zoom activity.
Here’s a link for a simplistic giude to using zoom 
Here’s another useful link to a message from zoom about how they are responding to concerns around keeping people safe online – it is interesting to see how surprised they are by the way that zoom has taken off
This is the one I am most familiar with through my other job at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  The person setting up the event or meeting has to have Microsoft office but other people invited to the meeting don’t have to.  There are some nice features that I have used such as blurring your background and I have found it to be generally reliable. 
I use this quite a lot on my phone but did you know you can also download it onto your computer.  It feels more like an enhanced texting tool but I am happy for that to be contradicted by any of you who regularly use it for connecting ditigally.  Again free to use if you use an internet connection but be careful if you use data on your phone – it can eat it up quite quickly.
Lastly, did you know that you can see the most recent posts on the SCDA Facebook page without having a Facebook account?  If you go to the What’s Going On menu on the homepage and select Facebook you can see them directly on the website.  Ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to have a Facebook account!
These are not recommendations!! I know that there are other platforms available.  I am just sharing my own recent experiences, perhaps you use other instant messaging packages that you could speak about or maybe you have come across limitations or problems with some?  It would be great if you could leave your comments here and flag it up on Facebook so that others can benefit from your experiences.  Try to keep it as non-technical as you can so that people like me can understand.
Stay Safe, Stay Connected, Be Creative


Although every care has been taken by SCDA in the recommendation of these resources, they exist on external servers outwith the control of SCDA and they have not been subject to detailed evaluation. Accordingly no guarantee is given by SCDA as to their suitability. SCDA shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising by virtue of accessing these links.



Just heard that Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is being live streamed today at 7 pm as part of a season of musicals.  They will each be available for 72 hours and can be found on a YouTube channel called The Shows Must Go On.  Suitable for all ages, if you haven’t seen the stage version (or even if you have) it’s a lot of fun and definitely worth a look.  Andrew Lloyd Webber has made the official announcement and here’s the link



Community Connection 2 – 3 April 2020

I can’t believe it is a week since the first episode of Community Connection.  Thanks to everyone who posted a comment – would like to hear from lots more of you sharing what you are up to.  Did anyone take a look at The Show Must Go OnLine?

Who watched One Man Two Guvnors last night?  I had seen this at the Theatre Royal some time ago (not with James Corden) and thoroughly enjoyed it and I wasn’t disappointed with an encore!  This stylistic production was interesting from the non-naturalistic acting to the cartoon like sets.  There was so much physical comedy and it really brought home how much energy you need for this style of performance – exactly what you need for a good pantomime!  What did anyone else think?  It’s still available to watch on YouTube so get the popcorn out and settle down for some top class entertainment.   Then take a couple of minutes to share your thoughts with others by adding a comment to this blog so that everyone can see it.

Here’s the official trailer for next week’s show, Jane Eyre.  I am so looking forward to this because I was away when the touring version came to Glasgow and I am really interested in the design of this Director’s interpretation.

So, what do I have up my sleeve this week?  I have started to divide my online searches into different categories and this week there are some announcements, a focus on youth as well as an eclectic mix of other things you may want to take a look at.

Firstly let’s start with the disappointing, although not unexpected, news that both the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival have been cancelled.  I heard someone on the radio talk about this being the equivalent to the World Cup for artists and performers.  This will have a big impact on our Edinburgh clubs who count the Festival as one of their most important events of the year.  Many of them play such an important role in ensuring that the rest of the world gets access to top quality Scots drama.  Here are links to the announcements

Edinburgh Fringe Festival click here

Edinburgh International Festival click here

Moving on to some good news, I have found a few things that may be of interest to youth groups.  Please share them with your members (better still get them to read this blog and access the links through here) – even if you are not a youth group you may have members with children or grandchildren.

First up, Scottish Youth Theatre have announced a national digital artistic programme.  Some of the elements require submissions to be made quite soon so you need to circulate these as widely as possible straightaway.  More information can be found here

Company Three, a youth theatre group based in North London, have launched an interesting online project called Time Capsule which young people from around the globe can take part in.  You can find the link here

I’ve discovered something new this week which I am really impressed with.  The Kings Head Theatre, the first pub theatre in London, is sharing a free 30-minute live interactive broadcast at 1 pm each week day.  The daily sessions cover a variety of subjects from Playreading to Ask Me Anything.  If you miss the live slots or the timing doesn’t suit you, you can access the recorded sessions on the website.  I highly recommend their Book Club sessions but to be honest I have dipped into a few different ones and there is something for everyone.  This is the first time I have looked at this venue but the speed with which they have introduced this programme and the value they appear to place on their staff makes me want to keep connected.  I would love to hear from anyone else who has seen anything or knows anything about this company? Here’s the link 

If you’re asking yourself how I find the things I am posting, some of it is trawling through websites and Facebook but I also subscribe to a few online newsletters and I recommend these two as a starting point.  For youth news you should sign up here to the Youth Theatre Arts (YTAS) newsletter.  Up to the minute news on opportunities to inspire young people and also links to  funding.

I also recommend Voluntary Arts who we have had a long relationship with. I have just joined their Creative Network which is open to anyone.  They have a daily coffee meeting from 9.30 – 10.30 (which I only discovered today after 10.30 so that’s one for next week).  Opportunities to link to other community arts – not only drama – and lots of good ideas for your club and also individuals.  Scroll down to the bottom of their page to sign up here 

For this weeks research I am going to focus skills based learning.  You can already find links to some interesting resources in the Links section of this website. I am looking for more in the areas of Acting and Directing.  There is a lot out there but I want to make sure that they are good quality before bringing them to your attention.  Our Chair is also looking for some more production focused ones so look out for those over the coming weeks. 

I started this week by thinking about the most common things that members ask me when it comes to skills.  I think the number one is ‘How to learn lines?’  I found this short technique on YouTube which I wanted to share with you.  I haven’t tried it myself yet but I think it could work.  Have a go yourself and let me know.  Click here

I wanted to finish this week with something a bit quirky.  Some of you may have seen this on Facebook but for those who haven’t, there is a growing trend for people to recreate famous paintings at home with some hilarious results – take a look here

That’s all from me this week folks.

Stay Safe, Stay Connected, Be Creative.



Although every care has been taken by SCDA in the recommendation of these resources, they exist on external servers outwith the control of SCDA and they have not been subject to detailed evaluation. Accordingly no guarantee is given by SCDA as to their suitability. SCDA shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising by virtue of accessing these links.


Community Connection 1 – 27 March 2020

Here is where it begins – Episode 1. The set is a small table in the bedroom with a laptop.  There is a standard lamp hanging over the table to throw some light onto the speaker’s face.  She starts speaking trying to focus on the little dot at the...


This is the first of a new series of blogs about staying connected.  There will be posts from Carole Williams and others with ideas and links.

Published: March 27, 2020