27 Feb 2021

Live Performance During a Global Pandemic

I’m Mair and I work alongside Luke to design and deliver our Platform strand and with Erin to co-parent our Stories from Scratch strand. Both these strands involve live performance of some kind….which is an interesting challenge during a global pandemic where bringing people together is the very thing you’re not meant to do.

If I’m honest 2020 was a bit of a blur. A week after we delivered our Torquay Takeover event at Torre Abbey, which focused on bringing young people together over 2 days to share live performance (including scratch), we went into national lockdown.

We didn’t know what this would mean in the medium to long term but in the short term we focussed on evaluating the event remotely and felt happy that we’d been able to make it happen. Perhaps most importantly we were relieved, 3 weeks later, to learn that no-one had been infected with the virus at our event.

All events have a sense of risk, and as live theatre producers we are constantly assessing and balancing the risk, we’re used to it and it’s a standard part of the job. BUT we had never dealt with the seemingly impossible task of supporting the creation of work without being in the room together. We had to shift our perspective and rather than focus on what couldn’t be done, we had to think about what was possible. As restrictions eased up over summer our Cabbage processions gave us the opportunity to pay artists to perform in person, alongside the brilliant Doorstep Youth Theatre. It was a total joy to see audiences enjoying the liveness of it all, but the arrival of Autumn brought live performance back into doubt.

At Doorstep Arts we’ve always worked outdoors as well as indoors – we’re based in Torbay which has a brilliant array of seasonal festivals (with weather often on our side), so we decided to draw on this experience and put a call out for local artists to work with us in developing an outdoor family trail at Cockington Court. The submissions we had were awesome, and we were sad not to be able to progress with a number of the proposed projects.

LaLa Arts and Doorstep Arts do Zoom

We’re now working with La La Arts and the dedicated team at Cockington Court to make this ambition a reality and pretty soon we’ll be announcing details of the trail as well as a couple of other surprises. Working with Laura, Ashleigh, Marissa and her team has been a delight and it has reaffirmed our belief in the power of collaboration. Individually, we couldn’t have made this happen, but by joining forces and seeking the positive and practical we’re finding a way to bring audiences to live performance again and as far as co-productions go, I believe Torbay families are in for a treat!