Midsummer Night's Dream (Live shows)
I apologise for the radio silence on this. This is a reiteration that the live shows will most definitely happen, however long it take, and a HUGE thank you to all cast and crew and venues for sticking together. At the moment we are looking, with lots of hope and wishful thinking, for an autumn run. This will be dependent on safety and legality at the time. We would look to have at least a month’s notice so that we can rehearse, and get things ready, quite intensively, for the shows at our full usual standard. As the shows WILL happen when it is safe to do so, we are asking all cast and crew to remain familiar with their lines and characterisations, as there is not likely to be time for "re-learning" when we are able to get the shows back; I find remaining familiar just involves a good focussed read and run over my lines once a week. When we get to live rehearsals with the final dates for shows, those rehearsals will need to be intensive logistics, blocking, and tech,. Lines etc will need to be already known. There will not be a performance at Brixham Theatre, as Brixham Theatre is remaining closed until Jan 2021, due to the pandemic, as the theatre needs several months marketing ahead of time and has very high local demographics of older people who need to isolate even more than the rest of us. I am however looking at alternative venues in Torbay.
In addition at least one of the live performances (I am aiming for the Bristol one) will be live streamed to audiences who still prefer to isolate.
Jack The Ripper (Live shows)
This show is going ahead. We are casting as planned this summer (although through the use of self-tapes instead of "in person" auditions, though an audition over Zoom or Facebook call can be arranged if someone feels unable to video their audition.). Initial rehearsals will be online, over Zoom.
The performances are likely to be moved to late January 2021 (discussions taking place over the next weeks), when most surviving theatres, as is currently thought, will reopen. We will also be doing a live streamed online performance in the meantime, and again, one of the venue performances will also be streamed to those who may still be isolating. We are not casting "online only" actors for this show, as we want to be able to present the same actors to all audiences, on and offline. We would love to hear from regular and new actors who would like to be considered for a role (all the details are over on the auditions page.)
The 2021 programme of live shows, all being well, is fully planned, and may tip over into early 2022. There is a very exciting line-up of work, including more Shakespeare (which is already booked in for the 2021 Bristol Shakespeare Festival) and historical dramas. These will be announced formally once there is more clarity on the Covid-affected timing of the current shows.
Later in July, our rehearsal venue will be available for limited use under current official guidelines. We hope to return by the beginning of August. There will be stringent safety (distancing, cleanliness) guidelines in place which will be mandatory to be followed for anyone attending. We have currently sent these to Equity for checking, and will have a finalised safety document outlining safety procedures which everyone will be required to follow, before we confirm a return to any physical rehearsal space.
We would like to be very clear that even when this return happens, attendance at the physical space will be optional. Any cast member not wishing to attend in person for any reason, will instead be able to attend the rehearsal from their own home, over Zoom. Physical attendance at rehearsals will become mandatory again, when it is fully safe to do so and we are in the final stages of getting back to live touring (for blocking etc). As long as full attendance happens, whether physical or online, at rehearsals, then we are happy!
The main rehearsal dates for our main shows remain the same; Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Where shows overlap there may be one show being rehearsed on one day, and one on the other.
Until we are able to return to physical rehearsals in full force, any trainee/first-timer crew roles will have to either be postponed, or take place solely online.
For the time being we will not be able to accept guests at physical rehearsals. Due to space being at a premium with social distancing, only actors and senior crew involved in the scenes being rehearsed will be able to attend. Family members or friends who are not in the production, will not be able to come and "sit in".
COVID Online Season
We are in the final stages of planning the show line-up for a season of online Zoom-based "Virtual theatre" which will be live streamed to audiences during the autumn, with a wonderful mixture of new and established shows. We already have a wonderful Shakespeare production being planned, and a piece of new writing by a guest author who normally works in the Broadway circuit and is very excited to expand her work over to the UK. Following a call for new work, we are also reading through a number of other very exciting submissions, to select one or two, for the season. Casting calls for all available roles will be released as soon as possible, in line with our usual profit share & portfolio content line-up. Rehearsal times for these may vary from our usual times.
It should be noted that we have updated the policy document pertaining to fight choreography and weapons use, in order to clarify best practice and our expectations. It can be found in our governance documents. With the upcoming two year programme of shows involving a high percentage of shows with action and fight scenes, it was deemed important to re-clarify.
We often have people join our team who are new to professional acting, who may have come from either an amateur background or indeed who have never performed before. Even for those us who have been performing for 20 or 30 years, you never ever stop learning. All levels of experience are equally welcome, however we have often found a huge discrepancy in expectations of professional theatre, which unfortunately can, without any negative intentions from anyone, create friction. In an ideal world with the relevant funding and qualified personnel, we would run free training classes at our rehearsal hall, however this is not currently possible, and therefore we have opened the Training Zone on Facebook, which all of our cast and crew who own a Facebook account, regardless of experience, will be asked to join from Jack The Ripper onwards, where we can share learning, best practice, and help with questions or skills gaps. After all, we pride ourselves on having some of the best raw talent in Devon, and making sure that we are all as finely honed performers and crew as possible, will serve to build everyone's individual careers, and the team as a whole. The Training Zone group can be found here. If you have a question, however basic or advanced, this is the best place to ask and discuss, and find resources.
For those people not on Facebook, we will forward the contents into emails.
From this point on, for the first six months with the company, new personnel will be required to complete monthly skills assessments with one of our senior staff. After six months satisfactory completion, new team members will be reviewed 6mts later, then, as with all of our team, will be reviewed on an annual basis. This will allow us to focus on continuous development of everyone working with us.
Market Stall, Ebay & Friends’ Scheme
With Brixham Pannier Market reopening later this month, we are reopening our book stall at the market on Wednesdays. This will have our usual wide variety of fiction and factual books, with new books added each week. The market takes place in the Scala Hall, part of the Brixham Town Hall complex, in the town centre by Bolton Cross.
We have also opened a dedicated Ebay store, which will sell donated items and any items that we are clearing out, to fundraise for the company. We will be re-launching our used-stamp appeal shortly as well. The ebay account is at https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/southdevonplayers.
“Friends Of” Scheme
Our ‘Friends of’ Scheme remains available. Full details on the website. Email email@example.com to sign up.
Following a spate of high-double-figures of highly concerning incidents of children contacting us without the knowledge of their parents for shows, providing dangerous amounts of personal information including secret contacts away from parents, and even requests for illegal trafficking from abroad (all of which have been reported to the child protection authorities in the relevant area to the child's residence, and anti-slavery organisations when from abroad), and incidents where parents have not been aware of chaperoning laws (in some cases being unaware even of the existence of such laws, let alone of the actual nuanced regulations and responsibilities), we have had to take the difficult decision to close our doors to child actors for the time being.
Dealing with these enquiries (sometimes two or three in one day) where children and parents are wilfully endangering children cause us huge amounts of worry & concern, it eats up hours of production time, from our small team, and we are unable to continue to cope without endangering our productions and company.
If we have shows or projects requiring child actors, we will contact a pool of three teenage actors with whom we have worked with this summer, who have established high-level professional skills & reliability, who will be invited to audition for any child roles that come up with new or peripheral projects. For anyone who wishes to read our child protection policy, which remains in force as a non-negotiable production document and regularly updated in line with new legislation, the document may be found in our governance documents section.
It should be noted that the coming two year forecast of shows after A Midsummer Night's Dream, (which is already cast as of Feb 2020, with two child actors involved) will not require child actors.
If local child actors wish to find alternative opportunities, we highly recommend Dramatically Different youth theatre run by the lovely Rachel Swain as an excellent practical team for children and teens, which works towards two full-scale productions per year in Brixham Theatre, as well as other local events, or alternatively, on a wider scale, you may wish to look at the Young Company at Plymouth Theatre Royal.