Creation in Isolation 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 this current challenge is bringing out new approaches and ways of working for the acta team.
Currently we are working on several performance projects with acta participants – read on for further project updates.
We are also developing a new piece which brings together participants from across our different groups – reflecting the diversity of our city, our nation, and the people we work with.
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. While the group cannot meet during Lockdown, Rosalie and Neil are using the postal service to set weekly devising tasks, and visiting weekly 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 have 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.
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 can’t meet in person at the moment, acta facilitators Rosalie & Jody are recording fun, exciting videos to accompany weekly challenges posted online, and sent in the post to parents of children. Latest project for the youngest children was the “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 have also been created for teachers to share with children at home. Watch them on YouTube here.
acta company has 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 during the normal Monday evening session, 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 have been creating characters and performing monologues which reflect their reactions to Lockdown , which will form the basis of a new piece to be shared online.
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, songs which will be edited together in a short film, ahead of a live performance post-Lockdown.
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 the 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 also are 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 provided youth theatre sessions for young people in both North & South Bristol. Lockdown prevented the double-bill performance of some of the end of year shows, but acta has committed to bringing these to the stage once Lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Lockleaze Youth theatre has also secured funding to begin again in the autumn.
Young Carers Youth Theatre provides weekly, and holiday-time, theatre sessions for young people with a caring responsibility.
During Lockdown, the group is unable to meet, but the current situation poses extra challenges for the young people, and acta is committed to providing all the support we can. Ingrid and Deb have been leading 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 Whole Team
The acta team is working hard to think up new ways of being creative while we are in isolation, to support our participants, and provide enjoyable activities for people new to acta.
We are slowly transitioning back to work in the acta centre, with socially distanced meetings and sanitising stations. To 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.
Follow us on the following channels:
Our team are keeping themselves well and helping their communities; for example, acta associate Tracey ran a marathon on her home treadmill and raised over £1000 for charity! Clare is running live dance fitness classes for friends & family; Jody is doing DJ concerts for her street, and Neil & Helen are delivering food to elderly neighbours.