Quaranscenes, an initiative curated by Fable Workshop and live streamed on YouTube, is an opportunity for writers and performers to share new theatrical works and test boundaries of online theatre. Alongside three short live performances of new writing, episode two of Quaranscenes also features the discussions on the upcoming creative opportunities, like The Phil Fox Writing Award, Digital Dark Room by China Plate Theatre and Momentum Symposium.
This virtual theatre is, therefore, quite dynamic and does its best to deliver a sense of proximity to theatre and incorporate the experience to the online audience. The outcome is debatable as the intimacy of the initiative sometimes comes to the verge of amateurism; nevertheless, Fable Workshop’s efforts to intersperse a tedious landscape of quarantine with theatrical scenes should be appreciated.
The first performance, “Cold Call”, written by Scott Younger and delivered by Peter Moreton, touches upon the current themes of loneliness and a desperate thirst for proximity and company, embodied by a telephone call in an office. Although Moreton admittedly tries his best to entertain and brisk the static space, it doesn’t quite turn out as cute and amusing as it perhaps intends.
The other two performances, “Can You Hear Me?”, written and performed by Hannah Hartwell, and “The Colour Grey”, written by Nataliya Kharina and performed by Rachelle Grubb, depict the themes of isolation from a slightly different angle, analysing the place of self within dull reality. Although “The Colour Grey”, with Grubb’s quite expressive speech, is least static out of all three shows, “Can You Hear Me?” feels the most genuine, sincere and compelling.
Its simple yet beautiful vision of self-love or at least self-appreciation coheres well with the current situation but it would have been and definitely will remain valid out of lockdown context. It also deserves particular attention as it is written and performed by one person.
The example of Hannah Hartwell, therefore, gives hope to the praiseworthy initiatives like Quaranscenes by Fable Workshop. Despite some slower moments, the project is nevertheless worth checking out as it will only make sense when shared by a community. What else do we have left these days, anyway.