with Cirencester Theatre Company.
For Cirencester Theatre Company, alongside many drama groups, lockdown meant ‘pressing pause’ on ‘normal’ activities. Regular meetings were replaced with virtual ones, such as weekly quizzes or play-reads. During one such weekly play-read in May, group member Lesley Scoble-Ash suggested ‘Someone should write a play about performing online!’
Katy Sorensen and Caroline Jalili, who have both written stage-plays for the group to perform, set about writing ‘The Show Must Go Online’, a 5-part comedy series about a theatre group (the ‘Cotswold Drama Dreamers’) who decide to perform their upcoming stage-production online. The series follows the group from first meeting, through rehearsals, to livestream, combining the dynamics of amdram, the peculiarities of lockdown life, and the inevitable technical challenges of virtual performance.
“It hasn’t been easy,” says Caroline, co-writer and producer. “Most of the tech jokes we wrote into the series were issues we experienced ourselves when producing it!”
“We’ve learned a lot,” says Katy, co-writer and director. “My only regret is not writing more characters. With so much interest from our members, it was disappointing not to cast everyone. So, we’ve started writing series two! We hope that this will give others a fun theatre fix during these difficult times.”
Carole Gray, who plays ‘Babs’ in the series, says ‘It’s been a great distraction during these times, and extra special as we can’t put on our December production.”
Sue Poole, who plays ‘Ann’, adds “It’s been a great experience all round – learning lots of new tech skills, as well as the opportunity to take part in a novel concept.”
Katy and Caroline plan to publish the scripts so that other theatre groups facing the same challenges can enjoy producing the play. “Even after lockdown is lifted, theatres may be affected for a long time. Stage performance may not be feasible. Many amdram groups include older people who may continue to shield. We want to offer groups like ours something to work on together, something that brings them as much fun and laughter as it brought us. And something they can showcase to their audiences whilst we wait for life to return to normal, whatever that looks like.”
So get ready to ‘press play’ on theatre again and visit the Cirencester Theatre Company channel on YouTube.com: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtHKkdb50nvrTGUrfTCwrQA to watch ‘The Show Must Go Online’!
For script and performance enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.