Greenwich Theatre has secured £35,000 in emergency funding from Arts Council England to protect and develop the company’s work with young and emerging artists and to move the annual Greenwich Children’s Theatre Festival online.
Within a week of closing its doors in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the theatre had launched Greenwich Connects – a programme of streamed shows, actor and writer challenges, family activities and industry advice sessions, all presented online. With support from Arts Council England, the company has now unveiled Phase Two of the programme.
The new wave of activity has been conceived to build on the engagement of Phase One and the theatre’s existing reputation for far-reaching artist support, preparing early career artists for the months ahead with the offer of new skills and a new ability to promote and present their craft. A programme of play readings will provide work for actors and a showcase for writers, the online family festival will include commissions for theatre companies, and the launch of a new consortium will enable artists to learn from one another as they navigate the many challenges of presenting work online.
The second phase begins in June with a programme of mentoring for five emerging theatre companies, provided by Tramp Theatre – the company behind the current series of Philip Ridley world premieres being presented online. The mentoring will support the companies as they transfer everything from play readings to children’s drama workshops online. The theatre has also announced the application process for three new micro-commissions for companies seeking to trial new ways of engaging with audiences online, while actors now forced to seek employment by auditioning online will be offered a series of self-tape masterclasses.
Playwriting will be celebrated in a direct development from Phase One of Greenwich Connects, with a company of actors hired to film a series of short plays, submitted in response to the weekly challenge issued by the theatre. Similarly, in July, CultureClash Theatre will present the latest incarnation of their bi-annual festival of new writing, Voices in the Dark: Take Two, with six plays selected by an industry panel from 100 submissions and showcased by a company of professional actors. New approaches to cabaret will also be explored when Chloe Bezer pilots a new format for bite-sized online performance.
James Haddrell, Artistic and Executive Director, said “This funding is a great endorsement of the work that we have been doing over the past decade in supporting some of this country’s most exciting theatre makers, and in celebrating theatre for families in all its forms, and we are proud to be able to continue this work despite the global shutdown of venues. It is essential, when venues begin to reopen, that we have an infrastructure ready to present work to audiences who are already desperate to return, and this work plays a part in doing that, enhancing the skills of actors and artists while in lockdown and supporting the grassroots of the industry at a time of incredible fragility with work, commissions, training and audience engagement.”
Simon Francis, Commercial Director, said “The closure of theatres across the globe has presented this industry with an astonishing set of challenges, not least in navigating a period of time with next to no income. Thanks to the support of Arts Council England, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the many donors who have come forward and supported us, we are getting closer to a survival model. While we work towards a reopening, we are delighted to be able to present such a rich programme of work for audiences and artists online.”