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Clapping for the Kids!

by on 19 June 2020

Lockdown Limbo

Clapping for the Kids!

Dramacube Productions was due to open on Thursday 19th March with its production of the musical Annie Jnr with a cast of a hundred children, when the full impact of coronavirus struck.  The principal of the stage school shares his thoughts.

A Reflection by Steve Leslie

It was around 8.30pm on Wednesday 18th March when we received the news that Hampton Hill Theatre was to close with immediate effect.

Our four brilliant young casts had all participated in successful Technical and Dress rehearsals for Annie Jr that week and we were ready to open the following night but now we faced a scenario we could not have foreseen just a few weeks earlier.  For safety reasons the show must not go on!

It was painful enough having to leave behind our wonderful set and all those amazing costumes which our creative team had worked so hard on but the hardest part, of course, was breaking the news to the one-hundred young actors who were set to perform that week.

Hampton Hill Theatre

Hampton Hill Theatre in isolation

I sat alone that night in an empty auditorium and tried to craft some words of optimism as I composed an email to the parents of our young performers.  Their show was over.  The show that they’d worked so hard for was not to be.  There were tears of course as news filtered out to students, but above all else there was understanding and a sense of resilience.  We will get this show back on, whatever it takes.

Our students had shown such maturity, throughout the rehearsal period, in dealing with the growing concerns of Covid-19, always behaving impeccably in complying with the additional hand-washing measures we’d put in place.  They continued to work hard, completely unphased by the growing panic surrounding the global pandemic and I’d like to pay tribute to them all for their sense of optimism and spirit which has helped us to keep going.  We clapped for carers, but we also clapped for all the amazing children who’ve dealt with such a challenging situation so well.

WizOz6342

Wizard of Oz, December 2019

Bouncing back has been tough but our on-line weekly workshops have been a pleasure to run and we’ve discovered new and innovative ways of engaging with our four casts.  Who could have imagined playing drama games on Zoom?  Every week students have brought new ideas and so much creativity to each session and we’ve seen monologues, artwork and even songs performed over the past few months.

We’ve made a commitment to get the show back on as soon as we can but in the meantime how do we move forward?

As a team we’ve had numerous discussions about new ways of working and ideas such as radio plays, podcast series and even creating videos have all been discussed.  However, there is an overwhelming sense among all of our teachers that we just want to get back into the room and work with our students in person.

annie-3E6A3851-470x705 2016

Annie Jnr , December 2017

Undoubtedly, we have now entered a different time and there will be much uncertainty over the next couple of years but we have to find new ways of working which provide both continuity and flexibility, allowing for our students to come together in a safe space and be creative.

Although plans have not be finalized yet, we are working towards a new start in September and will be consulting with parents over the next few weeks to find the best solution for everyone.

With theatre under threat, as it has never been before, we have to push forward and be ready to start again as soon as we can.  Positivity is key and I sincerely hope that we’ll see all providers of youth activities take the same approach.  We must try, as best we can, to give young people a platform to thrive, and when the stage-doors re-open, PERFORM!

Steve Leslie, June 2020

Photography by Bomi Cooper

 

 

 

One Comment
  1. celiabard permalink

    So pleased to hear of Steve’s plans for the future of the company. The work that he and his team of tutors undertake with young people is inspiring. So looking forward to seeing the company fully functioning again. All the very best.

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