| Niamh Hicks

Reflecting On Our First Online Workshop

Last week we invited the 250 people who are part of Brighton People’s Theatre’s network of participants to come and play online.

Not something I ever expected to do. Being a fan of, you know, actually being with people.

The response was overwhelming. Within 24 hours all 20 places in our core creative group who will journey with us over the next 10 weeks had been snapped up. We also have a waiting list. We sold tickets on a Pay What You Decide basis.

This was followed by a flurry of emails and text messages from people saying how excited they were to be a part of it. And people said how different it felt, some were nervous about coming along. Feeling that they were slightly more exposed and vulnerable on zoom than in a room.

So, on Monday evening from 6-7, when we would normally be in the Brighthelm Community Centre in the centre of town, we met on zoom for the first time. It was exciting, moving and just a flippin’ joy to be with people.

We spent most of the session hearing from everyone. How COVID-19 is affecting them? In the midst of the anxiety, the sickness, and the isolation that people described we also heard stories of people finding new connections with neighbours, solace in nature, and a deep reflection on what is important to them.

It’s an amazing group of people. From all walks of life. Key-workers. Parents muddling through home-schooling whilst trying to work. People living alone. People finding hope and positivity in all of this.

We played a couple of games. We waited patiently while people’s internet connection came and went. Screens froze. People left and rejoined.

We sang and danced a bit. Set people a creative challenge to write a monologue that they will each perform (if they want to) in our next zoom workshop in a couple of weeks.

I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

It’s just not the same as being together. And yet, it’s better than not being together. It has value. Meaning. People need people. And we need to be creative together, maybe now more than ever.

 

Naomi Alexander

Artistic Director of BPT