Creation in Isolation Summer 2020 Project
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 resulting in many people in lockdown isolation, we have turned to alternative methods to deliver our programme of theatre creation, even when the doors to the acta centre are closed.
Meeting challenges and thinking creatively around corners is what we do all the time, and the pandemic and isolation of our staff and participants brought out new approaches and ways of working for the acta team.
This project, from March-July 2020, culminated in a series of “Films from Lockdown” – click the link to read more about the project and access all of the six films.
Here is one of the films by our acta Company theatre group, featuring some powerful monologues by the cast about their experiences:
Malcolm X Elders
Malcolm X Elders is a group of eight lively African Caribbean women, all in their seventies and eighties, who create original theatre based on their heritage and life experiences.
The group have been awarded funding from the Windrush Fund, and a private benefactor, to create a new show for children based on their personal experiences and memories. Whilst the group could not meet, Rosalie and Neil used the postal service to set devising tasks, with weekly acta visits to distribute food parcels from Fareshare. For Windrush Day 2020, the team has conducted individual ‘doorstep theatre’ sessions, collecting and filming messages, stories and writing, inspired by the weekly challenges. See the film below:
As well as this film, we are experimenting with filming performers on doorsteps, using voice notes, written material, Zoom recordings and images to create a new online performance piece.
Making Time is a weekly creative lunch for isolated older people, providing a free hot meal, creative workshops, and connection to the wider community.
In Lockdown, we have developed our partnership with Fareshare and are collecting and delivering 30 food parcels every Monday to Making Time members and other vulnerable participants. We are including craft and creative challenges in the parcels for people to do at home and send back to us, or leave on their doorstep for us to pick up. We are also keeping in touch with everyone, not only through safely distanced chats on the doorstep, but also ringing the group members regularly each week to make sure they don’t feel isolated. We’ll also be making sure that they receive a printed copy of our participant newsletter, with news from the acta community and celebrating the creativity of our remarkable participants.
We secured funding to develop our lockdown creative care packages through the summer months, delivering weekly creative activities and packs of materials to isolated older people and families. By the end of July, over 500 food and creative care packages had been delivered, with the service set to continue through to September.
Lockleaze Kids’ Theatres
Lockleaze Kids’ Theatre is funded by BBC Children in Need, and provides weekly drama sessions with two groups aged 5-9, playing theatre games and working towards shows.
As the groups could not meet up in person, acta facilitators Rosalie & Jody recorded fun, exciting videos to accompany weekly challenges posted online, and sent in the post to parents of children. For the youngest children they created a “Superhero Challenge,” where children were posted superhero outlines, for them to colour in, creating a name and power for each, with parents sending short films and photos to a private facebook and Youtube channel. Older children have been working on creating their fantasy worlds. New films were also created for teachers to share with children at home: Watch them on YouTube here.
Later in the summer, children produced their very own lockdown films to share with friends and families – read more here.
acta company had been re-rehearsing ‘Clippies’ for further performances in 2020, after a series of well-received previews in November 2019. (Clippies will be brought back for performance when Government restrictions are lifted.)
When Lockdown began, Ingrid kept in touch with the group through weekly drama workshops conducted on Zoom, with company members of all ages taking part in drama games, character work, conversations, and developing new ideas. (The group also keep in touch outside of sessions through a private online group to share photos and stories.)
Most recently, acta company produced their own lockdown film – devising and performing a series of monologues to reflect their reactions to Lockdown.
Phoenix Theatre provides weekly theatre workshops for 16-25 year olds, creating original theatre.
Phoenix have been working on a new show via weekly Zoom meetings – creating new scenes, monologues and songs. These were premiered in a new lockdown film at the end of term in July.
Online theatre sessions have involved Phoenix members in games, exercises, and providing a much needed opportunity for the young people to keep in touch with their friends, and be creative. The group have been working on a new show since late last year; which is, ironically, set in the aftermath of a global catastrophe. They will have plenty of experience to draw upon when devising begins again. The group have also created their own online support network, where they can keep in touch during the week, sharing thoughts, photos and experiences. Read more here.
Lockleaze Stories is a weekly theatre group for women in the Lockleaze area.
Following the success of Drowning in Debt, which unfortunately had to be cut short due to Lockdown, the group are continuing to meet weekly online, with theatre workshops devised and facilitated by acta associates Jody and Tracey. The group are planning to bring back Drowning in Debt later this year, and are also working on ideas for a new show for family audiences. See photos from some of their recent shows here: Fairytale TV Takeover and Drowning in Debt.
Youth Theatre double-bill
Bedminster and Lockleaze youth theatres have provided youth theatre sessions for young people in both North & South Bristol over the last three years, as part of acta’s Youth Investment Fund programme. Lockdown prevented the double-bill performance of some of the end of year shows, but they are being brought back to perform this summer.
An improvised version of Lockleaze Youth Theatre’s Forest of Fears took place in Lockleaze on 6 August, and Bedminster Youth Theatre are the first in the post-lockdown acta theatre on 28 August, to film their Evil Versus Earth show.
Lockleaze Youth theatre has also secured funding to meet up again in September, with weekly workshops starting at the Hub (Gainsboriugh Square) from Tuesday 8 September.
Young Carers Youth Theatre provides weekly, and holiday-time, theatre sessions for young people with a caring responsibility.
During Lockdown, the group was unable to meet, but Ingrid and Deb led a series of weekly Zoom sessions, playing games, doing exercises, and building a new story together, ready to develop into a new show once restrictions are lifted, and new funding is secured. They are developing characters, writing monologues, drawing pictures, and most importantly, keeping in touch with their friends. These weekly online sessions with the young carers “zoomers” have secured funding to continue through the summer months, providing emotional support, fun and friendship. Read more here.
The acta team is working hard to think up new ways to keep making theatre, as we gradually come out of isolation, to support our participants, and provide enjoyable activities for people new to acta.
We are slowly moving back to work in the acta centre, with staff returning back in July, to start planning our next projects. Read more about our staff news – read here.
Social Media: Creative Challenges & Sharing News
On Twitter, we have been sharing creative challenges, news about upcoming events, seminars and projects, as well as images and videos from our participants Creation in Isolation activities.
We’ve also been featured on the Creativity and Wellbeing Week website, showcasing organisations across the UK that are supporting others in these challenging times.
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