Jamie Chapman Dixon is producer at The Barn Theatre, Cirencester. With the theatre closed due to Covid-19, the venue has been finding innovative ways to stream content as part of their ‘Save Our Barn Campaign’ to ensure the theatre’s survival.
One of their most popular initiatives has been a virtual concert series showcasing the works of Britain’s musical theatre composers, which feature performances from West End stars alongside new and upcoming graduates, to maintain the theatre’s ethos of providing a platform for people starting out in the industry.
Previous concerts have included the work of Daniel and Laura Curtis, Finn Anderson and Elliot Davis, while upcoming concerts will celebrate Amies & Clements and Annabel Mutale Reed. Previous and upcoming concerts, along with all of the Barn Theatre’s streaming content, can be watched here.
You’re about to host the fourth virtual concert from The Barn Theatre, how would you describe The Barn Theatre Presents Series?
The series is a string of concerts to celebrate new UK composers, whilst showcasing performers and giving new graduates a chance. It is a really special series that has been an absolute pleasure to work on.
Why is it necessary for The Barn Theatre to be creating content like this during lockdown?
Lockdown has thrown all sorts of spanners into the works and it has meant that the theatre’s income has come to a grinding halt. The Barn theatre is a charity, and the online content we are creating is helping to raise much needed donations for the theatre. We also want to stay active during this time as everyone is going through a difficult experience and we hope these concerts are a small ray of hope and light.
Where did the inspiration come from to feature British musical composers?
I have always loved new British musicals and we worked with Finn Anderson recently on a project that we commissioned. We have been wanting to work with new composers more, and during a conversation I had with Laura and Dan Curtis, The Barn Presents was born.
You’ve attracted some fantastic West End stars to perform, how do you convince them to take part?
I think it is just good faith and mutual respect. Most of the performers are cast by myself with help from the composers and our PR manager Aeron James. We reach out to performers we have previously worked with, or performers who we have always wanted to work with, and everyone has been so kind and generous with their time. We can’t thank them all enough.
What have you enjoyed most about hosting the series?
It has been great to learn more about the people involved, and the chats with the performers and composers when the cameras are off. I feel very lucky to be able to spend time (virtually) with such an amazing group of people.
What are the biggest challenges, technical or otherwise, in pulling together a virtual concert in lockdown?
The hardest thing is stitching it all together. Our media team, led by Benjamin Collins, are incredible, and they really have the hardest role within the concerts. The composers and contributors have also been incredibly helpful with this. My main focus is to make sure I don’t mess up too many recordings which makes all their lives harder.
How do you hope The Barn Theatre Presents series will promote British Musicals at a time when we can’t go and see musicals live?
I am hoping that people will take time to listen to these composers music, add it to their rep folders and support their future work. The UK has a huge talented pool of composers and lyricists, and we just need to help them wherever possible.
What can we expect from future concerts in the series?
We want to continue giving audiences diverse styles of music, as there are so many forms of Musical Theatre that people may not be aware of. I would also love to incorporate more and more new graduates in the future concerts.
Like all theatres, The Barn is having to fight for its survival, how can audiences help you out?
The best way to help is to donate and/or help spread the word. This doesn’t mean you have to give financial support, as even a share or a like on our socials is a way for you to help the content get in front of somebody who might be able to, but also it will help get the work that people have spent time creating to a larger audience.