String of Sussex dates for The Tempest and Treasure Island
Upper Beeding-based touring theatre company This Is My Theatre hit the road this summer, delivering productions of Treasure Island and The Tempest – both with a cast of just four.
They will be complying with all the regulations until they lift – and beyond.
Associate artistic director Ethan Taylor – one of the actors in both – said the company would keep with social distancing for the rest of the summer: all part of restoring confidence in their audiences.
The Tempest will play The Hawth Theatre (open-air) Crawley, June 16, 7pm; Danny House (open-air), Hurstpierpoint, June 22, 7pm; and Preston Old Church, Brighton, June 29, 7.30pm.
Treasure Island will play Preston Old Church, Brighton May 25, 7.30pm; The Hawth Theatre (open-air), Crawley May 30, 3pm; and The Paddock (open-air), Upper Beeding, June 3, 4pm.
“It feels amazing just to be thinking about it,” says Ethan. “We did manage to get out last year with a few tours, three in total, each working within the restrictions that were present at the time. Our first tour was all open air and socially distanced; and then Macbeth was our first small steps back into an indoor venue; and then we did A Christmas Carol which was cut short by the lockdown.
“We were massively lucky to be able to get out, and putting aside all the overall negativity of the year we managed to be quite positive. We kept on our toes. We thought on our feet. We managed to keep going. We didn’t want to be beaten and we managed to find ways around it. And I was immensely proud of ourselves and what we did, and the reactions from members of the audience when they came up to us afterwards – socially distanced, of course! – were just how lovely it was to be out there seeing something again at last, to be able to go out at last and have that visceral experience of theatre again amid all the doom and gloom. Just to go out was lovely.
“And I think in the grand scheme of it all, we can’t just go on unchanged by it all. Hopefully we are more considerate now of our audiences and their needs and hopefully people appreciate more now a sense of the arts and the liveness of the arts and the sense of community that comes with the arts. I know that we have adapted our models and that we have got contingency plans on top of contingency plans!”
But yes, the company has certainly been able to show its resilience: “And credit to our audiences to and to our communities. They have shown a desire for this and a spirit for this. We just couldn’t have done the last year without them.”
The tour this year is roughly the same size as normal “in terms of the area covered and the length of the run, but for the audiences we will still be offering the socially distanced model for this first tour and maybe later tours. I can’t comment on the winter tours, but I think we are committed to social distancing for the summer.
“I think it is important that we get the audience’s confidence back and that they feel that they can come along and enjoy some space without having anyone breathing down their necks.
“But I am hoping that the audiences will not be too nervous. For the majority of the shows that we did during the pandemic, the nervousness was set aside as soon as the audience arrived and saw all the measures that we had in place. When they saw that we had taken considerable precautions, I think they relaxed.
“And we are pretty confident that we will be fine this year. We are bubbling up and staying together for the entire tour. We won’t be leaving the accommodation other than for the shows. We take it all extremely seriously because it is measured against the thrill of performing again and that’s absolutely not something we want to jeopardise.”
Full tour details on https://www.thisismytheatre.com/