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  • Anna Newell

where to from here....?



So my last blog was all about the many many different projects I was excited to be embarking upon in 2020.


And then, three weeks into the 11 week national tour of I AM BABA, it all stopped.


My 2-week tour of BLUE round Dublin libraries cancelled. Baby Music Adventures still in the planning stage but postponed for sure. FOUR GO WILD IN WELLIES not going to Broadway or Canada as planned. Ongoing touring of LITTLE MONSTER, TWINKLE TWINKLE and MESS cancelled.   


I've mostly been mentally regrouping and endlessly scenario planning in the last few weeks as everything changes simultaneously incredibly quickly and painfully slowly.


And working out what I think. And realising that the live experience is absolutely at the heart of what I do. For some of the audiences that I work with, screen time is actively a bad thing, for others proximity is a massive part of how they engage with the world.


I had to go back to what I think theatre is. For me, anyway. And for me, it's about one human being communicating with another, connecting with another, engaging with another. And it's live.  And it's my job to create the optimum conditions for this to happen.   


So where I've got to is a set of attempts to engage with this situation and still engage with my audience in the way I want to, creating these optimum conditions within a whole other set of restrictions/requirements/anxieties. My thinking, along with everything else, is constantly changing and recalibrating.


We should be rehearsing GROOVE from next Monday. A new immersive 70's happening for kids with complex needs. We're going to try and learn the songs online and work out which platform allows us to sing together in the least painful way. If we can make that work, we'll invite our audience in virtually and, if we possibly can (and of course within safety guidelines), later in the summer, we'll head out and do mini-gigs outside the windows of some of the families who might have come to the show. Our wonderful costume designer, Susan Scott is working out how we might do masks and/or visors in a way that's not scary and that works with the costumes whilst keeping everyone safe.


I've been commissioned by my producing partner, The Civic to reimagine BigKidLittleKid - I want to take the two characters and the original musical score as devising parameters and create a semi-improvised structured pop-up piece of live wordless theatre that can be invited into various appropriate outside spaces (to be confirmed nearer the time but we're thinking about quiet streets, school playgrounds, parks) and still be responsive to its audience. It's not something I would have done otherwise and I'm excited by it as a new form rather than it feeling like a compromise. Here's the Civic's blog about all of their Ready Steady Show commissions, all of which are reimagining themselves in terms of the new restrictions.


I'm trying my very best to keep in touch with teachers' and early years settings' groups as they work out how they might move forward with their world so that I can align what I'm doing with what they're up to.


And I'm about to be able to announce another mini-commission for November which will allow me to explore how I might create live theatre adventures for my tiniest audience members in this brave new world that they've been born into. Watch this space.....


And if you despair of there being live theatre again, watch this. It lifted my heart and hopefully will lift yours....

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