Wick Theatre hoping for better times ahead
Dan Dryer laments that there hasn’t exactly been a lot of theatre to co-ordinate in his role as the theatre co-ordinator for Wick Theatre.
But the fact is that he and the company have made it to the end of an enormously difficult year intact – and have got plenty of plans for 2021, restrictions and regulations permitting.
“I am responsible for putting our season together,” Dan says. “We have a play selection committee and we put a play season together and present it to the committee.
“We had a season ready to go, doing four plays a year.
“We were going to do The Great Gatsby in March, and we had been rehearsing, rehearsing, and we were two weeks away from opening. And then we went into lockdown.
“It was awful. I know in the great scheme of things, with Covid and with all that was happening, it didn’t matter at all, but for us, it was a huge disappointment.
“ We were thinking we might get to put it on June and then in September.
“It sounds ridiculous now, but obviously we just didn’t know at the time just how long this was going to last.
“And in June we had a play lined up, King Charles III, and we were going to do Frankenstein in September, and then we were going to do A Christmas Carol in December.
“And then we were going to do A Merchant of Venice in March. That would have started rehearsals.”
But the year hasn’t been a total loss: “In the early days, we were doing lots of Zoom quizzes, and just like the whole world, we were meeting up on Zoom.
“And the theatre committee has been meeting monthly by Zoom, and our newsletters go out once a month.
“Usually we would be talking about productions, but now we are talking about our members’ stories.”
A few months back, with the possibility of live performance perhaps opening up, they started looking at options – options which could withstand a member of the cast suddenly having to self-isolate and drop out.
And so they started looking at the idea of a radio play, with the actors performing script in hand.
That way if they lost someone, someone else could easily slip in; if they had to delay the whole thing a couple of weeks, they could easily do so.
And so they started pondering ghost stories for Christmas – and then the second lockdown came: “We were dead in the water once again.”
But instead, the company came up with the innovation of their Ghostly Christmas Advent Calendar, which proved a big success, offering an online ghost story each day during the build-up to Christmas.
It proved a big success and helped end the year on a high.
And so a new year begins – amid continuing uncertainty.
“We have got a set ready to go for The Great Gatsby.
“That was mothballed back at the time, but we still want to do The Great Gatsby.”
If it gets to March, April, May and we haven’t yet all been vaccinated, then equally the idea of a radio play will re-emerge – again, the perfect option when any of the cast might be forced to self-isolate at a moment’s notice.
The basic hope is to deliver the programme of plays which had to be abandoned – though again there could be complications, in terms of casting and availability.
“As soon as we get back to normal, we will have to have a meeting of all the directors just to see what is still possible.”
But in the meantime, the ghostly advent calendar certainly served its purpose: “We wanted to show people that we are still here.
“We wanted to let people know that we are still alive and that we still want to put on productions and plays and tell stories.
“We have just got to keep hoping and see what we can do when the time comes.”