| Naomi Alexander

Theatre in Uncertain Times

Well, hello there. How are you? I really hope that you, your family and loved ones are doing okay. 

At Brighton People’s Theatre we have spent the last few weeks trying to figure out what the purpose of theatre is in these uncertain times and what we might be able to offer. 

My god we miss seeing people at our weekly workshops and all our other activities. Theatre is inherently a collaborative art form. It brings people together, in a room, to co-create moments of magic that couldn’t happen if they were on their own. 

And now we are on our own. And we don’t know how long this situation is going to last for. How do we make theatre in this context? How do we get together, to share and connect? To create joy in each other’s lives?

We’re going to figure some of this out over the next 10 weeks. 

What we plan to do

We are inviting the 200+ people in our network of participants to come and play in an online creative offer to unlock theatre in their homes; where their homes are the stage and Brighton is the backdrop.

At the end of the 10 weeks, we will co-create a short film/films that we will share online reflecting what we have made over this time.

We are running:

  • Regular theatre workshops run by myself and Luan Taylor where we will play games and set creative writing, movement, performance and singing challenges for people to do in their homes and neighbourhoods
  • Play-reading groups run by Suhayla El Bushra where we will read plays aloud and talk about the art and craft of play-writing
  • Theatre clubs run by Maddy Costa where we will watch a show online and come together afterwards to talk about it
  • A sound design workshop run by Melanie Wilson exploring sound in the home and getting people to create their own soundscape
  • A lighting design workshop run by Prema Mehta exploring lighting design and getting people to play with lights in their home and neighbourhood
  • A costume design workshop run by Rachel Owen getting people to create mood boards and design and make costumes

We don’t know if it will work, but like everyone right now, we’re going to give it our best shot. 

We know that not everyone in our network has access to the internet so right now we are using our access budget (previously set aside for childcare and transport costs) to invest in tablets and access to the internet so that they can participate. As a huge bonus, they will also be better equipped to stay connected with friends and family during this difficult time. 

We hope that people might have fun, play and connect with one another in unusual and creative ways. We hope that we can unlock theatre to make it a little more relevant and accessible to people. We hope that we can learn more about how to make theatre online as well as offline in a participatory way. Maddy Costa will be blogging about what we learn for us along the way. 

But most of all, we hope you are safe and well. If you’re anything like me you might have struggled over these past few weeks. Felt anxious when usually you don’t, felt real fear for those you love, wished you could do more to support the NHS, key workers and those who are most vulnerable. 

Come and play?

If you are one of our participants reading this, we hope you’ll come and play and gain some respite from all this. We’ll be doing something every Monday from 6-7pm and every Wednesday from 4-5pm. You’ll be getting an email from us about how to join. 

If you’re in the theatre sector reading this, also trying to figure out how to make theatre in this uncertain time and would like to connect to explore this with us, please get in touch. You can reach me on naomi AT brightonpeoplestheatre.org

Thanks for taking the time to read this. We’ll be updating the blog every week to let you know how we’re getting on with our online experiment in theatre-making. Come and play?

Hope to see you soon.

Naomi Alexander

Artistic Director of BPT