The first play, due at the beginning of October, explores the power and importance of storytelling, Snow (a new play by US writer Ashley Griffin, creator of the pop culture phenomenon Forever Deadward, and the first person ever nominated for a major award for both playing and directing Hamlet,) follows three disparate storylines that all revolve around the fairy tale Snow White. Utilizing a structure similar to Cloud Atlas and The Hours, six actors playing multiple roles tell the stories of the Grimm Brothers (who originally collected and published the classic fairy tale), the Campbells (a Victorian theatrical family whose lives begin to mirror Snow White), and modern day Astrid (a young woman who, after her abusive mother puts her in a coma, must decide whether or not to wake up). Incorporating aspects of American Gods, and classic storytelling techniques a la Peter and the Starcatcher, Snow is a dark and moving play that mines our storytelling traditions both in style and subject matter. SNOW received three NYITA nominations and was performed off Broadway in NYC and developed at Playwrights Horizons.
The second play, due at the end of October, is The Lost Girl by Germaine Shames, based on the eponymous novel by D.H. Lawrence.
Alvina Houghton, the headstrong daughter of a widowed Midlands draper, comes of age just as her father’s business is failing. In a desperate attempt to regain his fortune and secure his daughter’s proper place in society, James Houghton buys a theatre. Among the travelling performers he employs is Ciccio, a sensual Italian who immediately captures Alvina’s attention. A celebration of freedom, however fleeting, and a testament to the power of the imagination to transform even the most mundane life. The script has been vetted by international D.H. Lawrence scholar, Catherine Brown. Jessica Levinson Young, Artistic Director of Untold Theatre, writes, “I absolutely loved this script for The Lost Girl. It has incredible pace and the dialogue simply leaps off the page!" . The script won Starlight Theater's 2019-20 Playwriting Award . Another of Germaine's D.H. Lawrence adaptations, THE VIRGIN and the GYPSY, received a reading at the 2018 Festival of New American Theatre.
Then comes Sir Walter's Women, a play written by Rachel O'Neill, for 2Time Theatre in Winchester.
This is a one-act drama that reimagines the life of the charismatic poet, pirate and son of Devon, Sir Walter Raleigh. The play looks at his relationships with the two most important women in his life; one domestic with his wife Bess Throckmorton, and the other political as he manoeuvres his status as a favourite of Elizabeth I to satisfy his political ambitions. His great error is marrying Bess in secret, to the great and lasting displeasure of the Queen. The play ends with Sir Walter's incarceration, trial and execution. Rachel’s plays, Tilly and The Spitfires and The Fasting Girl have had rehearsed readings at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton and her most recent work, Eager for the Air was shortlisted by the RAF for an audio drama marking the Battle of Britain.
The South Devon Players Theatre & Film Company, remain active through the Covid crisis, creating virtual theatre productions, as well as planning for the future.
This “virtual autumn season” is a response to the Covid19 restrictions on performing traditional venue-based theatre. While the Players will return to normal theatre performance as soon as practicable and safe for both cast and crew, in line with the current government guidance, they feel it very important to keep working and creating in the interim.
For the time being therefore, the Players have moved into cyberspace, with actors and crew joining us on screen from their home studios, in the UK, USA, and Ireland, rehearsing and performing online, where audiences all over the world can access the performance, and the cast & crew can earn equal shares of whatever is made from the online performances ticket sales (every penny goes to the actors and crew).
For our online season, we have teamed up with three new writers; Ashley Griffin, Germaine Shames, and Rachel O'Neill
Broadcasts of the plays will be ticketed events, via a link to a hidden area of our .com website, provided to ticket buyers at the time of ticket purchase. Tickets will be sold via our website box office, linked to our ticketsource account.
And finally – William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew . A project by some of our team members, this adaptation of the full, original text, creative challenge exploring 'further developing on the idea of creating digital performance and new techniques of expressing characters, with the roles being split between two actors. Through painstaking character development, innovative performance, video editing, and use of online media tools, this production is going to be one which presents a traditional comedy, in a very new, modern way.
As is widely known, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, caused postponement and cancellation of live shows for several months, for every theatre in the UK. During lockdown, the South Devon Players decided to resist the trend of companies closing,and the Players decided to create online performances, in which the actors come together to perform online from the safety of their own homes. This in itself has not been easy, as many people in the team, have had to learn new technology & software, and find ways to make it work on household electronics, with the cast and crew working from their lockdown locations mainly in south Devon but also sheltering in place spread across the UK, as well as the Republic of Ireland, and the USA. .
We have been very pleased to hear of the UK governments move towards allowing limited indoor performances from August 15th 2020, and the associated guidance on the uk.gov website.
Having reviewed the information as updated, we wanted to set out, for clarity, how this will affect us.
For the time being, we will not be returning to live shows in physical spaces (though once it is safe and possible, we will be back with bells on!) and will be continuing to focus on our Autumn “Virtual season” and while we will regularly review the situation whenever new information and guidance comes out, we are not expecting a return to live physical performances until at least the awaited announcements from the British Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, expected in November 2020.
This decision is for a number of reasons.
In the meantime therefore, we have our Virtual Season, which is allowing for some incredible collaborations to form, and some super broadcast theatre with new and established creatives to our team, working almost entirely online. We are also working with the Arts Council and Torbay Culture, to create a filmed performance piece about local Brixham ghosts and spooky tales, which creates some brilliant fully paid work for some of our actors; and we are in rehearsals for physical shows, to return to the physical stage once it is safe, and cost effective. We are also planning further ahead with writing for new shows, and working with more theatre shows through 2021 and 2022.
When we are able to return to the physical stage, our cast, crew and audiences should be aware that there will likely still be some level of restrictions, or additional guidance still in place, and to work with us on those.
We also recognise that there may still be a number of people, who may feel unsure about attending the theatre in person. We are working to run livestreams of our performances (at least one per production) from the venues, so that for those who would rather attend the theatre from the safety of their own home, they are able to, for the same ticket cost. Early equipment tests are proving very positive, and we are now working on linking the systems to high-quality cameras to provide the best audience experience.
There are also a number of other creative plans, the viability of which, will be looked into through the autumn, and developed from this work. (Some will succeed and others not be deemed as likely to work) so we are using this time as usefully as is humanly possible.
We fully realise that some of these “realities” of why we are not doing the “distanced indoor shows”, are hugely disappointing to many, both our audiences and our creatives, however, we feel that it is very important that we do everything in our power to ensure the wellbeing of our cast, crew and audiences, while also continuing to create work and . It is much better to come back to physical shows, a bit later with everyone well and happy, than to have had some avoidable disaster.
With the understandable confusion already appearing in some articles circulating online, regarding the August 13th announcement, we wanted to take the time to explain in detail, where we stand, and the reasons for our decisions.
Hello all! Lots of news at this end, re the online and offline shows, rehearsals, paperwork, plans and changes for the future. Everything is as positive as can be expected in these crazy Covid-times.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Good morning all. It has come to our notice that a streaming website named LiveABC, has been illegally downloading and streaming our recent online performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
If you are watching or accessing this show please ensure it is accessed via our official www.southdevonplayers.com page provided to purchasers of the show tickets.
Aside from this other site downloading and streaming our copyright content without our permission, which in itself is illegal, the fact that we created this online show to help our actors and crew earn some money to survive in this lockdown, and the fact that this website has seen fit to just steal everyone’s hard work with no recompense let alone permission , to our team, has absolutely horrified us.
Legal, and Union advice is being taken on this matter, and the Police have been informed.
Anyone with any questions is asked to contact is at once on email@example.com
(Note: the screenshots below relate to, and show, the unauthorised/ illegal stream)
Our company founder, Laura Jury, recently entered a Shakespeare project run by the Globe Theatre.
Her "angry drunk" Hamlet monologue was one of those picked for the Globe Theatre's Shakespeare Solo / Shakespeare from quarantine project - and there she is in the header image (middle of the far left column, holding the vodka bottle). :)
Considering that the Globe is pretty much as prestigious as you can get when it comes to Shakespeare...that is quite a feat.
You can view the link below at:
Laura's original audition video can be viewed here.
So, the last few days have been spent at Brixham theatre, setting up for, and performing, our production about the 1866 Great Gale of Brixham with an amazing cast. We now break for Christmas, although we are back in January for another performance at Ivybridge! (Box office details here) Our retiring collection raised approximately £95 for Brixham Fishermans Mission.
Show photos by Laura Jury and Gemma Burford.
Updated by our founder