This year Croydonites Festival of New Theatre looks a little different for obvious reasons. The fifth festival was supposed to happen from 26-29 March 2020, but Lockdown 1 halted proceedings, so they have embraced the digital sphere to host Croydonites Bites this Saturday, 13 March.
We’re promised an evening of antics on Zoom, including live and recorded performance, artist interviews, films, discussion and more. There will be an interactive element (it wouldn’t be Croydonites without one) and you may need to bring along some props (read on). Oh and it’s free. All you need to do is register.
Croydonites Bites features some familiar faces alongside some new ones, including Gill Manly, Joanna Scanlan, Anita Wadsworth, Jenny Lockyer, Ellie Scanlan, Shaniqua Benjamin (Croydon’s first Poet Laureate), SLiDE and Gemma Coldicott, Darren Randon, Owen Kingston (of Parabolic Theatre), Vinicius Salles, and Flo O’Mahoney (of Zoo Co.)
We caught up with director of the festival Anna Arthur to find out more about our date with Zoom this Saturday.
Croydonist: How did you go about curating an online evening of theatre and do you have an overarching theme?
Anna: The evening is a real mixture, most of it is new, created during the lockdown. There was very little curation really, I invited all the Croydon artists that had been or were due to be part of the festival and gave them free rein. There’s no theme, but of course Covid does crop up!
Croydonist: Is some of Saturday’s programme adapted from what we would have experienced at last year’s festival if Covid hadn’t come along?
Anna: Yes but very little. Artists have done what they always do and have been very creative during this period. Normally they are responsible for creating the work, booking the gigs and even promoting them so with that not happening, there’s been more time for the fun bit.
Croydonist: How much do you think that lockdown has affected the narrative of what has been created compared to the sort of content you would normally see?
Anna: Apart from the one work that does deal with it, I don’t think the content of the work is that different. The way it’s delivered has had to change whether it’s using a different medium like film or adapting the work to perform it live via a screen. Film is much more forgiving, but live can be much more exciting!
Croydonist: Do you feel that fringe theatre is currently under threat more so now than ever?
Anna: Yes it’s absolutely under threat. I know some artists that have left the profession entirely. But once we can go back, I think there’ll be a resurgence, we are all desperate for that live experience. I’m certainly looking forward to the next time I attend a festival like The Vaults or Edinburgh.
Croydonist: What do you feel that the online world of theatre can bring to audiences right now?
Anna: It’s the live element that makes it different from watching a film, especially if you can interact in some way. I saw a piece by Sh!t Theatre where they created a Whatsapp group before the show and we could talk to them and the other audience members – we were given questions to answer and tasks to do. So it’s the feeling of connection that theatre can bring. I wonder if you would still feel the same way if someone said it was live but it wasn’t – I mean how would you know?
Croydonist: Do you think there will always be an online element to Croydonites moving forward?
Anna: Maybe, but let’s see how it goes this Saturday!
Thank you to Anna for chatting with us.
This Saturday’s programme includes:
Tales from a Crematorium by Gill Manly (recorded)
A new play by Gill Manly starring Joanna Scanlan and Ellie Scanlan. A dark comedy set in a local crematorium during the Covid-19 pandemic. A wry look at how easy it is to catch Covid and the devastating effects when rules are broken!!
Karunā by Anusha Subramanyam (live dance performance)
Karuṇā has undertones of pity and sorrow and (in both Sanskrit and Pali) is generally translated as compassion. It is part of the spiritual path of both Buddhism and Jainism. Compassion to all, to ourselves and to others. In pain and suffering.
Ghosted by Shaniqua Benjamin (live spoken word)
Ghosted is part of a wider piece of poetry, looking at how society’s ills affect a love story and how greater compassion, care and consideration could have given this story a different ending.
Show and Tell by Anita Wadsworth (interactive live performance/installation)
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Making Time: 15 minutes
Contents of your bag OR
Any pile of unorganised but important things
Pen or pencil
Sheet of paper
Weighing scales or tape measure
Available at Saturday 13th March from 7pm on Zoom
SLiDE (dance film)
Whilst facing the reality of lockdown and a suspension of our rehearsals and performances, the SLiDE Collective took to their local green spaces. They filmed themselves improvising in response to the feelings brought on by separation and the covid crisis. We shared creative tasks and simple beginnings. During the improvisations we tried to embody the togetherness we feel when we dance together. In post production we collaborated with an animator to increase the connections and find a thread between the dancers individual films and images.
‘You make me steal things’ by Jenny Lockyer (recorded performance)
A song about romance and kleptomania.
Moon Face by Ellie Scanlan (recorded performance)
A comical series of stories based on bizarre real-life events. Moonface explores Scanlan’s experiences living with Crohn’s Disease, working with children, dealing with grief and the many unusual events that happened on the way.
Dance Film by Vinicius Salles
Interviews/Discussion with Owen Kingston (Parabolic Theatre), Flo O’Mahoney (Zoo Co.) and Darren Randon (Well Versed Ink), Cllr Oliver Lewis (Croydon Council).
Croydonites Bites! is this Saturday, 13 March 2021
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Register here to join the evening for free.
See you on Zoom!
Images courtesy of Croydonites Festival of New Theatre. Header image by Megan Forbes
Posted by Julia