Chester Theatre~ latest information
LOCAL THEATRES GET CREATIVE AS LOCKDOWN CONTINUES – THE SHOW MUST GO ON!
Whilst cinemas will be able to re-open their doors from 4th July, live performances in theatres are still not permitted and so venues are having to come up with inventive ways of connecting with audiences to ensure that “the show will go on”.
Community theatre company Tip Top Productions based at The Forum Studio Theatre in Chester has added more events to its popular “Lockdown Season” a series of virtual events staged via Zoom which are enabling members and supporters alike to come together during the lockdown.
Following on from the success of events including a play reading, virtual quizzes and a new writing showcase, organisers have now added a number of new events including Musical Bingo, an open Mic Night, a Games Night and a read through of extracts from “Waiting”, a new play by Chester based playwright Gail Young which will include a post event Q&A session with Gail herself.
Speaking about the popularity of the “Lockdown Season”, Brian Fray, Chair of Tip Top Productions said “With community right at the heart of what we do, it is challenging for us to be able to engage with our members, volunteers and audiences in these difficult times. The social team, led by Rhian Lyon and Phil Cross are doing a fantastic job delivering a diverse range of events which are proving extremely popular. Whilst we can’t wait to be able to open our doors and stage live performances again, it’s just wonderful to be able to put some smiles on faces albeit in a different way to how we “normally” do it”.
Full details of Tip Top’s “Lockdown Season” can be found at www.chestertheatre.co.uk to register to take part or view an event, email email@example.com
Meanwhile, Storyhouse has announced that it will re-open from 4th July with its main auditorium being used as a cinema whilst live performances
are not permitted. Social distancing and other restrictions will be in place to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and audiences.
CEO Andrew Bentley said “Like every other theatre in the country we are fighting to survive, and that jeopardy is very real unless something changes. There are plenty of headlines about theatres going into hibernation, we are a diverse business so that’s not for us. We will be open and supporting our community from day one, just as they are showing such support for us right now. It’s time for the country’s theatres to think about how they can re-open to serve their communities”
It is also preparing to launch a drive-in cinema season, Moonlight Drive, from early July to sit alongside its popular open-air cinema, along with plans to turn its main theatre into a cinema until Christmas. Artistic Director Alex Clifton said “We’ll do what we can. If theatres aren’t going to be able to stage shows in the autumn, then we’re not going to wait. If we can’t gather people together around a stage, we’ll bring them together around a screen. We will open in any way we can to safely serve our community with great stories and joyful shared experiences. We will relentlessly pursue our mission at this time when our diverse communities need us most.”
“We’ve managed to keep over two thirds of our entire community programme going during lockdown, that’s over 350 online participation sessions since we closed on 16th March – language classes, karaoke, home schooling, reading clubs and storytelling. The first moment we are able, we will reopen our doors to support in person – particularly our more vulnerable communities. We need to start paying back this overwhelming support in whatever way we can. Full details at www.storyhouse.com
Whilst It may be a while until theatres can stage live performances again, one thing is certain, during these unprecedented times, our local theatres are certainly proving that by thinking “outside the box”, the show will go on.
THEATRE COMPANY’S NEW WRITING SHOWCASE IS A TIP TOP HIT WITH VIRTUAL AUDIENCE.
A virtual season of events sets up by a local community theatre company has proved a big hit with its members and supporters with a recent event showcasing new work by local writers attracting such a large number of contributions that a second event is already being planned.
Organised by Chester and Wrexham based theatre company Tip Top Productions, “Monologues Live!”, part of the company’s “Lockdown Season” was staged via zoom recently and attracted writers from across the region who submitted short pieces to be performed live in performers’ own homes in front of a digital audience. The showcase proved so popular that organisers Phil Cross and Rhian Lyon are now planning a further event.
Speaking about the success of the new writing showcase Phil Cross said “Whilst we are still unable to stage what would have been our normal season of plays and other events at The Forum Studio Theatre, we wanted to inspire a little creativity whilst still in Lockdown. Our new writing night provided a platform for writers both established or complete novices to showcase short pieces of writing live in front of a digital audience. The local writing talent saw their work bought to life performed by Tip Top members old and new. We had such a great response with well over 60 people attending and such lovely feedback that we have started work on our next event already. Our lockdown season has something for everyone with dance workshops, quiz nights, play readings and plenty more. Keep an eye on Facebook, Instagram or our website for more details”.
Details of Tip Top’s current Lockdown season can be found at www.chestertheatre.co.uk
or via Facebook and Instagram with new events being added as the season continues.
Musicians from across the Chester, North Wales and North West live music scene have come together to produce an album during the coronavirus lock-down to raise much needed funds for a charity which supports Nurses and other healthcare professionals in times of hardship.
Described as “a carefully crafted collection of contemporary classics with a few welcomed curve balls thrown in for good measure.” the album entitled Covered:19, is the brainchild of Chester based musician and blogger Dan Schott and follows on the from the recent launch of a cover version of Summer- The First Time with Startripper bandmate Vince Cory which set out to raise funds for The Cavell Nurses’s Trust, a nationwide charity which helps nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants in times of need.
Dan, 44 who set up the popular blog and Twitter account Schottslist to highlight local music gigs and bands in the Chester area said “Vince and I released our cover track in aid of the charity but then having seen various mates from the local music scene posting some mind-blowing tracks on social media as the lock-down continues, I decided to put a call out for tracks to make up an album and I have been staggered by the response. We now have a total of 22 tracks which include covers, some original songs and a poem.”
Musicians from across the Chester, North Wales and North West live music scene have all given their time freely to lay down tracks for the album in their own homes during the lock-down with Dan taking on mixing and mastering duties from his home in Chester. The project has received backing and sponsorship from Wallasey based business The Safety Centre Ltd so that following the launch of the downloadable version, a CD of the album will be available soon.
Tracks have been recorded for the album by local bands and solo artists including Dan own’s band Startripper, Guy Bengree, Tim Chapman, Paul”Winky”Williams, Will Riding, Jim Paul, David Watson, The There or Thereabouts Brigade, Jackson Williams, Edd Case, Andy Hignett, Dai Banjo, The Modern Society, Paul Michael and Vince Cory, Berni Lee, Pair Of Sixes, Sophie Wilson, The Last Clouds, Jonny Daniel and Katie Deyes, Steve Jones, Jonny Sax and @Shitchester. Artwork for the album cover has been specially designed by local artist Dai Owen.
Speaking about the motivation for the project Dan said “It’s our way of giving something back and to say thank you to nurses and healthcare workers for the tireless work they do and to hopefully raise a few quid for The Cavell Nurses’ Trust, a charity which helps nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, both working and retired, when they’re suffering personal or financial hardship which is often due to illness, disability, older age and domestic abuse. They rely on amazing fundraisers, donors, members and sponsors to ensure nurses in need have somewhere to turn in their hour of need.”
Dan has been overwhelmed by the response to the appeal for friends from across the local music scene to get involved, “It’s been very humbling to be able to be involved in this project and an a heart-warmingly positive experience behind the scenes, togetherness in isolation. Everyone has come together to give a gift to the City from its thriving music scene with some interpretations of some of their favourite songs in the name of love, hope and the community. The expression ‘Team Effort’ gets banded about very easy in 2020 but I genuinely hope everyone involved in this feels as important as anyone else in putting it together.”
“As with the download of the our original track, we’re asking that if people like what they hear that they might very kindly, if they can afford it, give a quid or two to this amazing charity at this time of national crisis when downloading the album by making a donation via schottslist on the bandcamp website. The CD version will be available soon, in exchange of proof of a donation to the Cavell Nurses’ Trust.”
Full details of the artists and tracks featured on Covered:19 together with a link to the download can be found at www.schottslist.bandcamp.com
Forum Studio Theatre and Tip Top Productions Announcement
In response to the recent government guidelines, the Board of Tip Top Productions have decided to cancel all current productions until further notice with a view to rescheduling at a future date. This means that no shows or events will go ahead at The Forum Studio Theatre (Tip Top or visiting companies) for the time being. Our production of Joseph, due to be performed at Theatr Clwyd in May, has also been cancelled and will be rescheduled. All rehearsals will also be put on hold for now.
Ticket holders and prospective bookers will be contacted directly. Please be patient with us while we deal with this.
We believe the measures taken to be in the best interest of our members, volunteers and audiences and we will be constantly monitoring the situation in order to take what we feel is the safest option for all of our wonderful supporters.
As a company with community right at its heart and where coming together is the essence of our DNA, the weeks and months ahead are clearly going to be very challenging for our members and volunteers. The board are looking at how we can offer support during these challenging times.
Regular updates and contact information will be posted via our social network platforms.
Brian Fray (Chairman) and Steve Davies (Artistic Director)
Paul Crofts will keep this page updated with information and venue re-opening dates as soon as they are available.