Today, the second rehearsal after Christmas and the New Year, took place over Zoom, for our production of Jack the Ripper. The techincal rehearsals for the broadcast began today, allowing several weeks to get the entire project running smoothly!
And here, for your delectation, are some behind-the-scenes screenshots of some of our incredible cast!
Coming over the next few weeks, we will be uploding the information on our main 2021 casting calls. (Please note that we expect there to also be a number of other smaller digital-only projects, especially while we continue to create digital projects during the Covid crisis. These two major shows look forward to when it is safe, and viable to return to the live stage.
We are excited to announce that the next primary casting calls will be for a production of
William Shakespeare's Henry V, and for an all new stage adaptation of Lew Wallace's classic novel Ben Hur.
At the time of writiing, the Covid pandemic continues unabated, with a shocking "second spike", but in positive news, two vacciences have been approved for national use, and so, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Some levels of lockdown do allow for theatres to open in a socially distanced way, but with rapidly changing infection rates in different regions, as well as the fact that with nessecary social distancing it is impossible to sell enough tickets to a venue to allow for the cast and crew to earn anything, and tight backstage areas where actors and crew are unable to socially distance (and that is before you even look at the mechanics of the interactions on stage!!!)
Until we can perform viably and safely in theatres, our work will remain digital.
Our lineup of live shows (when we can return to the stage) will be tours of
- Jack The Ripper (currently in rehearsals, then a digital performance, which will then be held until we can return to the stage, for a live tour).
- Henry V (subject to being able to return to the theatre during summer 2021, if not there will be a digital-only project linked with some larger national Shakespeare digital events)
- Ben Hur (some work on visual and computer effects will begin summer 2021, requiring the two principals to be cast and contracted early, to have visual effects built around), but rehearsals etc will commence after Henry V, and the shows are hoped to be toured in winter 2021-2022. This will be our biggest and most complex show to date.
Planning has never been so difficult - as it is not a simple case of scheduling one show after another, as in normal times; it is also affected by the undercertainties of the pandemic. This means that dates are still highly uncertain at the moment, even to return to the rehearsal hall.
Following the digital performances of The Lost Girl and Jack The Ripper, we will be having a week of "down time" to assess what the likely timeline is at that point. This means that we hope to start accepting auditions for Henry V, in the middle of Feb 2021. We may also schedule some short-term digital-only plays, if, at that point, it looks as if we will be remaining digtal-only into later summer.
As always we are happy to keep a note of anyone interested in auditioning for us, in order to send a reminder when the audition packs are uploaded.
We are working on #fundraising -yes some creative approaches- to prep for 2021 - because as soon as it is safe and viable, we will be back to the live #stage (in the meantime we will continue working on digital broadcast) Please pass to anyone willing to help!
Info on our fundraising at https://www.southdevonplayers.com/fundraising.html.
Fundraising like this for some of the day to day core costs, allows us to support our actors and creatives as much as possible from the show ticket sales, as well as to improve equipment and costume/ prop/ set resources, to create higher quality, more creative shows, and to develop free educational resources.
We are collecting used postage stamps to help fundraise for our theatre productions.
All used stamps (any age, or country of origin) are gratefully welcomed.
The stamps are sorted and sold to stamp-collectors, which help raise invaluable funds for us.
Every penny raised from this fundraising is used for
- sourcing props & costumes
-hire of rehearsal space (or Zoom subscriptions during Covid)
- printing show posters & flyers
- saving for & buying basic technical equipment
- insurances/ script copyright registrations
Please email us on email@example.com for a UK postal address to send the stamps to.
(while the covid pandemic is happening, we pop in at our usual shared rehearsal base less often, so it is
easier to send direct to one of our team at the moment) This is an ongoing appeal with no end-time.
New digital theatre shows coming up in January and February 2021. TICKETS ON SALE NOW. Please share this information to anyone who may be interested!
The Lost Girl, is a drama set in Edwardian England, following a young woman, who feels stifled by society's conventions, whose father takes on a theatre, as a new business venture, with unexpected consequences.
Jack the Ripper is a steampunk-styled drama based on research into the Ripper, and theories as to his identity.
All funds raised from ticket sales are used to pay the actors and production crew (in equal shares), creating some work for professional creatives during the Covid-19 crisis. #supportuktheatre
Full viewing information and how to buy tickets, is all over on our website's box office page at
We must apologise for the quietness over the last few weeks - lots of things have been happening!
Taming of the Shrew news
First of all, we must apologise for the cancellation of The Taming of the Shrew. Due to illness in the team, it was impossible to continue to the deadline. (for the record those affected are recovering well!). The team behind that project plan to resurrect it in the future, timing to be decided in that team.
Sir Walter's Women
On the plus side, the performance of Sir Walter's Women went very well, with great feedback from the author - we certainly hope to work with Rachel again, especially when shows come back to the live stage in the future. It is wonderful to find a playwright who, like us, loves researched historical plays.
BSL Christmas stories
We are currently working on a pair of children's Christmas stories, both spoken as recordings and recorded in BSL (British Sign Language), which will be available for free via this website, in the next few days. (The signing for the second story is being done as we speak). This project has been very kindly funded by Western Power Distribution. It is the first time we have worked with getting BSL signing (the first of many projects, and increasing the accessibility of our productions) .
Welcoming new stage crew
We are delighted to be welcomeing new stage crew, Sophie on tech and set design, Rebekah who is a trainee ASM and filmmaker, Pete assisting with research and digital shows, and Jean on costuming. We are still looking for a stage lighting/ sound tech to join the crew - please check our Crewing page if you would like to be considered to join our upcoming team.
Next castings coming up:
We have our next open casting announcements coming up. With show dates for both virtual projects and "live" shows in discussion (we have provisional live show dates booked for later in 2021, but of course physical rehearsals and shows are dependant on covid safety, and venues being able to re-open to audience numbers which makes a show tour viable in terms of ticket sales for our actors.).
Please keep an eye on our newsfeed for the latest castings - we hope to announce during either December 2020 or Jan 2021.
We are currently in the final stages of updating the company documents and governance documents. As a lot of these are the policies and procedures by which we run, we ask that all actors, crew and anyone else who works with us, pops over to the Policies page to check up on them. As always it is all just really about checking the latest best practice, and making sure that our paperwork reflects what we do anyway. We find that it is best to keep things open and clear.
Next shows coming up:
Coming up next, we have two virtual shows already planned, Lost Girl and Jack The Ripper, rehearsals for both are well underway, and the tickets are on sale on our box office page
Well, it has been a hugely busy autumn for us, and there are dozens of projects, discussions and plannings in the works.
Halloween and a video project.
For Hallloween, supported by Arts Council funding via Torbay Culture, we created Spooky Tales of Brixham, a series of short stories, told in the first person by actors playing Brixham ghosts, based on local folklore. It has gone remarkably well, with fantastic audience feedback.
Coming up next
This side of Christmas, we have two more historical dramas, coming digitally, to our season of online productions - tickets all on sale now: pop over to our box office page to book now.
And in addition...
We are also working with Ivybridge Community Arts on a local history production that they have created,
planning ahead for further online theatre productions in the New Year (and as long as Covid nessecitates that we work online. Some very exciting projects are in various stages of planning, from castiing to being written, behind the scenes!
Castings and auditions
We have had a number of casting enquiries recently. We currently have open castings for specific roles within our production of DH Lawrence's The Lost Girl, to complete the compliment of actors. Anyone wishing to audition for those roles, please visit our "auditions" page as we are accepting auditions for the next ten days or so for those roles.
During December/January, the next big show auditions will be made live on the same site, and announced here in the news page as well as on our official company social media.
We have recieved a number of enquiries this autumn seeking auditions and "have a go" acting roles in our shows, specifically for children. As announced back in the summer, and as stated on our website in the audtions page, we were forced to close our doors to accepting new child actors, for the time being, for a number of reasons, including repeated concerns that children working with us were not being correctly chaperoned by their parents, and a deluge of very bizarre social media requests (reported to the authorities) requesting us to illegally traffic children from a number of countries, to the UK. In the interests of everyones well-being, safety and legality, we ended up with no choice to close the doors to new child actors. As always we reiterate; we are not a childrens theatre company, although the majority of our shows are suitable viewing for all ages, and we do only cast child roles, where a child is specifically required for a role, which is not the case in every show.
At the moment, with Covid, all auditions take place using self-tapes. We have found that email systems can be very sporadic in filing submitted auditions sent via file-transfer systems to different folders, including the spam folder. While we do our utmost to be vigilant and pick up the auditions, we are still concerned that some may slip through the net, which is not fair on everyones hard work, and therefore we are working on finding an accessible, easy system which allows for easier submission and more efficient casting director access. If you have sent a tape, but not had a response, please always check in with us.
A commonly asked question
Leaving aside the current second lockdown; a question that we are commonly asked, usually two or three times a week, is why we have not returned to live "on-stage" theatre, when techincally, (outside of the lockdown) the government allow for it.
Ticket sales. - As a professional company, we rely on ticket and programme sales to pay our actor and crew. If, due to social distancing, audiences are cut to 20-30, there is no way that we can even hope to break even on the show, much less pay anyone. The only way in which this could be done, is to charge extortinate amounts per ticket - which would be unlikely to fill seats anyway.
Distancing for cast and crew - The current advice that we have recieved from our Equity contact, is that actors have to be fully socially distanced from one another on stage, which means in turn that we cannot have a natural dramatic dynamic on stage. Furthermore, every actor has to have thier own dressing room (most venues cannot accomodate this), and live in a "bubble" of a hired hotel before, during and after the show - there is no way to afford this. (Also what about families, other work/ committments, etc?)
Venues - Many venues are closed, due to the lack of viability in being open under these circumstances.
And while we are all looking forward to a safe return to the live stage, it needs to be safe for the actors, crews, audiences and venue staff alike; and viable.
Until then, all our work will take place online.
The Friends of the South Devon Players
And we have a message to the Friends of The South Devon Players, a fundraising arm run by volunteers who support our work.
This year did not launch things as planned - while we were planning for social events, and all sorts of "perks" for the membership, Covid, and our scramble to keep the company ticking over, knocked that on the head.
We are however now looking at creatiing "zoom socials" where you will be able to join, socialise, chat, and meet some of the cast and crew. None of these are mandatory for anyone, but will be an option to remain in contact.
We will also be looking at various other "digital" perks, until we can get back into the live spaces, and the original plans, with an emailed announcement soon.
If you would like to support our company's groundbreaking theatre work, and join the Friends, it is only £10 per year, and please pop over to the Supporters Trust . Every penny raised goes into creating new theatre work; costumes, equipment, publicity materialls, venue hire - and when we get to that stage, union-pay-rates for our actors and crew.
Payments from Snow and True Spooky Tales of Brixham
Payments to cast and crew from these two productions are currently going out.
All cast for Spooky Tales will have recieved their payments last night.
Those whose payment details we have from Snow, also went out last night, we are just waiting on a couple of cast to let us have their payment details so that we can get theirs en-route as well.
There is a lot of news for a short period of time, that affects most of our shows.
First of all, we are delighted to announce that our first ever Arts Council funded project, True Tales of Spooky Brixham, is now live for public ticket sales. We had a great session with most of the recording work last week, and are doing the final pickups tomorrow. This project will be fundraising for Brixham Theatre, our nearest local theatre, where we always perform for each show tour.
Secondly, theres Jack The Ripper. The live theatre shows were originally planned for the end of January (at Brixham Theatre) but with the governments expectation that Coovid restrictions will go on for another six months, and Brixham Theatre not reopening until May 1st 2021, we will be running a virtual performance in early Feb 2021 (tickets on sale soon), prior to the rebooked tour dates in May for the live performances of Jack the Ripper as originally planned. All venues originally booked will be contacted by the end of the week to rebook.
With this schedule in place, we can also announce that in, the early New Year , we will be castings for our second "live" post-covid show, Shakespeare's Henry V. The dates for this show run will be dictated by our inclusion with Bristol Shakespeare Festival, ideally live, or otherwise as an online show.
With our virtual season, there have been some date changes. The Lost Girl (script by Germaine Shames, based on the novel by DH Lawrence) is being rescheduled for mid January 2021. Between some internal live broadcast logistics, and a delay caused by struggling to cast the older roles, (a new casting advert will go out shortly for those roles) we have postponed the project so that it can be done to best effect and quality..
The other autumn virtual shows, Sir Walter's Women, and The Taming of the Shrew, are unaffected.
Our non-exclusive casting agency also remains open. While our books are closed to actors who have not worked with us (we work on being able to provide personal reccomendations from having ourselves worked with people), our actors are largely available for remote/ home-taped/ virtual/ voice over work, or castings on known Covid-secure sets. Please note that if seeking actors through us, these are all experienced professionals, and must be paid as such.
We have some new work coming in through the agency at the moment, and suitable team members will be approached over the next week or so for the work, which will all be done over Zoom.
We are also in the process of developing a welcome book for those who join our teams for one or more productions. For those newer to working professionally, or who are unsure what to expect, this outlines how things work and organisation expectations, aiming to answer frequently asked questions, and be an easy to access guide. This will be finished by Christmas.
And that's all for the moment. Stay safe, keep battling along, and never stop revelling in creativity!
Updated by our founder