Covid Lockdown Breath Machine, Online. The Edinburgh Fringe has always been the place to push at the limits of what theatre is. This year, that is truer than ever as the uncertainties of COVID-19 have driven a digital shift.
At the start of 2020, Southwark Playhouse commissioned a group of playwrights to write short plays. The aim was for them to be performed on stage by the Elders Company, the playhouse’s drama group for anyone aged 65 and over, but then lockdown came along.
In a time of bitter, divisive politics, the positive, as well as the negative aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it is truly global: people everywhere feel the same fear, sorrow and frustration at the same time.
Even more than an outpouring of passionate pacifism, Benjamin Britten’s Owen Wingrave is a universal exploration of the heroic strength of character required to reject decades of blind allegiance to an unholy cause.
Before lockdown, Bewley’s Café Theatre in the bustling heart of Dublin was the place to grab a short lunch-time play, a bowl of soup – and maybe even chat up a stranger. For now, those days are gone, but Bewley’s has joined forces with online events company The Lock Inn to open the tiny venue to a potentially limitless audience.
The Dirty 30 II: Electric pay-per-view. Review by Barbara Lewis. Instead of loud applause and cheers, “you were spectacularly fabulous,” pops up on the side of the screen from an online viewer, as the imaginary curtain goes down on the Degenerate Fox theatre’s online adaptation to the times we’re in.
Ghost Light, National Theatre of Scotland film. A theatre never goes completely dark, even in lockdown: a single light bulb, known as a ghost light, carries on glowing like a sanctuary lamp.
An unexpected joy of lockdown is seeing world-class performers in their natural habitats. Habitat is the apposite word for Simon Keenlyside, who read zoology at Cambridge before focusing on his operatic career and who describes a love of nature as “the marrow” of his existence. He looks to music for its validation.
For Wasfi Kani, the unstoppable founder of Grange Park Opera, even a pandemic is only a temporary setback. As soon as she had accepted this summer’s country house opera season at The Theatre in the Woods was lost, she set about mobilising the “pandemicists” and amassing funding for a Found season.