Shutdown

I’m stating the bleedin’ obvious here, but this really isn’t what we were expecting out of 2020, was it? I’m going to keep this page regularly updated with recommendations of things to do to try and ease any symptoms of cabin fever…

This week’s top tip

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#ShowMustGoOnline: Much Ado About Nothing (Wednesday 15 July, 7pm)

Obviously The Show Must Go Online is my highlight of every week, but I do love this particular play – and the updated artwork has definitely got me intrigued. The social media line is “The Messina Hotel & Casino is the world’s finest destination for romance, excitement & espionage!” which sounds like a brilliant theme; nice to see the return of a concept, after the Tarantino Andronicus a few weeks ago – I’d imagine Queen of Props Emily Ingram may have had her work cut out with this one… Definitely one not to be missed!

Featured posts

You can find all of the posts I publish during this period in the ‘quarantine‘ category, but I’d like to draw your attention to these in particular…

66473716_10156411841178803_5316545217476689920_nRoad to nowhere
At time of writing, theatres have been closed for over 100 days. It’s taken only until very recently for the government to even acknowledge there’s a problem, and all they really seemed to do was pay lip service to the industry rather than attempt to tackle it in a more practical way. Instead, theatres have had to rely on the goodwill of patrons (who are able to afford it) to provide donations, mostly in return for online streaming of past productions; when you consider that massive institutions such as the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe were finding themselves in trouble quite early on, it’s clear that smaller theatres and those based outside of London would be at high risk. Though people in the arts are stereotyped as being overly dramatic, these warnings are far from hysterical but have nevertheless fallen on deaf ears. Read more…

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Wish list: National Theatre At Home
Following on from the instant success of the first National Theatre At Home streaming event on Thursday night (Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors, starring James Corden), it’s got me thinking about all the other wonderful NT Live screenings that I’d love to come to the small screen as part of this series. Over the next few weeks we will be treated to Jane EyreTreasure Island, and Twelfth Night – but what should come after that? Read more…

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Hurry up and wait…
One month ago today I was sat in a theatre for what I fully expected to be the last time for quite a while. SOLT had closed all of its theatres even as audiences were beginning to arrive; the United Kingdom government, when it eventually acknowledged we needed daily briefings, began doing them at any time between 4.30pm & 6.30pm – rather than earlier in the day, allowing businesses & institutions to effect change with a bit of time to prepare. The inability to set a proper time for these briefings merely added to the chaos that inevitably ensued each day. Getting back to the point… I was out at Bromley rather than in the West End, so I managed to get away with seeing Karen Hauer & Gorka Marquez in Firedance and spend one last evening in a theatre. The remaining things I had planned for the week were cancelled or postponed, and by the end of the week my office was closed, leaving us to work from home. Read more…

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Shakespeare’s Globe: “Parting is such sweet sorrow”
Reading that the Globe may struggle to come back from this current crisis without the help of donations and emergency funding didn’t seem quite real. When they announced their forthcoming summer shows back in January, I must admit that I did wonder whether the rather bland programming had come about because there were some financial shortfalls – though nothing a fairly populist season couldn’t sort out – but even having that at the back of my mind didn’t prepare me for the facts being laid out in the cold light of day. Read more…

The Show Must Go Online

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My constant since this all began, and what I look forward to most each week. They’ve even branched out for the Pop Shakespeare series, featuring a selection of Ian Doescher’s Shakespeare/film mashups. If you want to support the team taking part (and would like access to some behind-the-scenes content), then you can become a patron for just over £1 a month.

“Imagine the heat Macbeth would get for killing Sir Patrick Stewart!”
Hopefully, by now you’re familiar with the phenomenon that is The Show Must Go Online. The project was put together in a week in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has seen theatres shut down and left actors & creatives out of work. They are working their way through Shakespeare’s repertoire of 37 plays, in the order it is believed they were written; so far we have seen The Two Gentlemen of VeronaThe Taming of the ShrewHenry VI parts one, two & three, and Titus Andronicus. It has been brought together by Robert Myles (director) and Sarah Peachey (producer) – each week the team grows and the productions develop into bigger spectacles. Read more…

“Exactly what the world needs right now”
Never have the words “all the world’s a stage” felt more apt. Thanks to initiatives such as The Show Must Go Online, global audiences are getting the chance to connect with Shakespeare in a way they never have before. When faced with the closure of theatres across the world, it seemed unfathomable that brand new productions could be mounted – let alone involving people living thousands of miles apart – but here we are, nine Shakespeares & two Pop Shakespeares down the line, and only growing in imagination. Read more…

Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties

Something that’s really taken me by surprise – such a simple concept, but a ridiculously addictive past-time. Head to the official website for full listings. You can also donate to the Broken Record Appeal to help out of work musicians.

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Image credit: Ben the Illustrator

Together Apart
This is obviously a deeply unsettling time, with anxieties only exacerbated by an untrustworthy government seemingly hellbent on sacrificing the older generation and the less well-off, so it’s more important than ever to find some positives wherever you can. On top of recouping at least two hours a day because I currently don’t have to commute (and doing away with all the associated stresses those journeys entail), one thing that I’ll always be grateful for when I look back on this period is my newfound appreciation for albums – perhaps ‘rediscovery’ would be a slightly better word. Read more…

Film recommendations

Over the past couple of years I’ve been getting more and more into film, though I still invariably miss some new releases – and there are plenty from way back when that I need to catch up on. So that’s what I’ve been doing! Starting just before the official ‘lockdown’ period began here in the UK, I have watched a new film every day (and generally a double bill once a week) and in so doing uncovered some real gems. #TarantinoTuesday (#Quarantino) has become a real highlight of my week! Here are some to check out…

  • BlacKkKlansman
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon
  • Queen & Slim
  • Coco
  • Withnail & I
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Pride
  • A Matter of Life and Death
  • Just Mercy
  • Back To The Future
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Little Women
  • Blue Story
  • Harriet
  • Good Vibrations
  • Beats
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

How can I help?

Anyone with a keen interest in theatre knows that it’s a precarious business, but often you’re ‘only’ thinking about the jobs of the cast & crew rather than the longevity of the building itself; this crisis has shown up just how undervalued theatres & performing arts spaces are to the money men – despite the reliance on people working in the arts to keep everyone entertained during this time.

You can support theatres by purchasing any merchandise that may still be on offer, waiving a refund on a ticket you’ve booked, or donating directly to the theatres themselves.

Shakespeare’s Globe
Text GLOBE5 / GLOBE10 / GLOBE20 to 70460
Donate online via PayPal or through the Globe’s website
Add ‘Shakespeare’s Globe’ as your chosen charity on smile.amazon.co.uk
Donate to the #ReadForTheGlobe fund

National Theatre
Text NTATHOME 10 / NTATHOME 20 to 70085
Donate online via PayPal or through the NT’s website

Royal Shakespeare Company
Donate online through the RSC’s website

Check your local theatre’s website to see how you can support them during this period of uncertainty.

Tweetalongs

One bonus of not being in an actual theatre is that you can interact with the show in different ways to normal – a tweetalong is a perfect example. Without really planning it, I seem to have started a monthly tradition of watching a première streaming event and tweeting along with it; Shakespeare has been an early trend (as the Bard’s work seems to have been a popular choice so far), but I am trying to branch out. For me it’s a nice little project, as I get to learn a bit about anything related to the piece before imparting it on the night – and the opportunity to find some appropriate (but predictably silly) GIFs to sit alongside that isn’t something I’m ever going to pass up!

Barn Theatre: Henry V
National Theatre: Twelfth Night
National Theatre: This House
National Theatre: A Midsummer Night’s Dream