It’s the time of year when historically we look back on the work done in the past twelve months and look forward to what we will do in the next. Hmmm.
We have lots of plans for the next year but announcing them with certainty seems empty. When THE METAMORPHOSIS (Scotland version) was cancelled after five performances back in March, I told the company with confidence, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll do it next year.’ Thinking back, that seems funny. As the year went on, I started to feel like I was in a black hole, telling myself everything would be ok whilst getting pulled closer to the singularity. What could we do? Talking to our friends in the theatres, we decided to indefinitely postpone The Metamorphosis - which we would never be able to stage with physical distancing rules - and make something ‘COVID-friendly’, something that would incorporate, celebrate, use as an asset, the restrictions of physical distance in a theatre. We embarked on a co-production with Dundee Rep and scheduled a tour (still scheduled!) to Dundee, Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh.
WHO FRAMED FRANKIE DRAGO? (working title)
WHO FRAMED FRANKIE DRAGO? is the result, a co-production with Dundee Rep, created through physically distanced residencies which took place in autumn. Four actors at the front of the stage, shrouded in Perspex booths and with a microphone each, will play the voices of the twenty or so parts in the show. Onstage the actors will lip-synch to the voices. The catch? The main role of the protagonist will be played by a DIFFERENT ACTOR EACH NIGHT. They won’t know what they are doing but will be guided through the show by the rest of the company and with the help of an internal monologue. Why? On one level it reflects the predicament of the protagonist, a film-noir private eye, who wakes up tied to a chair with no memory of how they got there. On another, it will be a lot of fun. More importantly it represents a gesture to Scotland-based actors, many of whom have been deprived of their work for nearly a year. It’s an offer to be onstage, if only for a night. Who does Frankie Drago turn out to be? Hopefully, you’ll see. The show will be a celebration of live-ness, of the importance of stories and art, especially when times are hard.
With the brave support of Dundee Rep, we will create and rehearse this show in the Dundee rehearsal room in February. We will rehearse and ‘tech’ it. We will employ actors, designers and a production crew. It will be ready by the 8 March (the scheduled first preview). If the conditions change around us and we get to do the tour, won’t that be brilliant? If not, we will have a brand-new show ready for the theatres that want it when conditions allow. We will work with Dundee Rep to explore ways of sharing a sense of the work and the artists involved with audiences, in a way that serves the show and works within restrictions.
Our NEW DIRECTIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR position will be offered to a successful applicant. We have already advertised this and will interview applicants in January. The Associate Director will work as Assistant Director on Who Framed Frankie Drago? and will get to direct a small-scale touring show of their own later in the year, produced by us.
THE METAMORPHOSIS (ITALY)
We were hoping to be in Italy in January 2021, with the Italian-language version of THE METAMORPHOSIS, our co-production with Emilia Romagna Teatro. This has now been postponed until March, when it will be performed in Cesena and Vignola before a subsequent international tour. Will it be postponed again? What do you think? … We will be ready anyway.
Our English-language version of The Metamorphosis, (the best-reviewed show no-one ever saw!) has been postponed until… when? All we can say is that we won’t abandon it. It is, we believe, too good for that.
THE METAMORPHOSIS: UNPLUGGED
Our 2020 Associate Director (New Directions) Joanna Bowman will direct THE METAMORPHOSIS: UNPLUGGED. This will tour to venues ‘all over Scotland’ in May. And what if we can’t go ‘all over Scotland’? We will try for a Tier 1 Tour and take the show to as many people as can accommodate it, in those tiers. We’re talking to promoters and trying to find a way.
By Brite Theater and Kolbrun Sigfusdottir. We’re so glad we produced this extraordinary work and helped Kolbrun realise her vision to create something live. It gave people a break from their computer screens and the chance to star in their own show. Like all brave works, it will be back by demand. This, we don’t doubt.
PRODUCING AND SUPPORTING ARTISTS
As the year goes on, we will support and produce the work of more artists, especially those with innovative ideas about theatre and the possibilities of live performance in these strangest of times.
We will soon begin a collaboration with the Piccolo Theatre in Milan.
In September, we will go to JAPAN for a residency to create a NEW CO-PRODUCTION with Kanagawa Arts Theatre (KAAT) in Yokohama. Will we go? We hope so! And if we go, we’ll be offering an opportunity to another early career artist to come with us. Applications will be announced in due course.
How much of this will happen?
Will theatre ever be live again?
Will it survive? Will we survive?
The only answer we’ve come up with so far is to make new work, employ people in safe environments where theatre can be created so that, if and when theatres are open, we can offer them something. Something new, something original, something LIVE. We’ll be ready.
If that dream dies? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Maybe, we will find ourselves deeper into the black hole, at the singularity, that vanishing point at which space and time become infinitely distorted. What awaits us there?
A new dream?