Since the end of March, Farnham Maltings has invested almost £40,000 in South East theatre makers to create new work for these extraordinary and difficult times. This fund was first announced three days after the theatres closed, and the first round of commissions included a community light show and song, monologues written over Whatsapp, and a jukebox telephone line, all created by artists in the south east of England as immediate responses to the Covid-19 crisis.

Now we’ve been in lockdown for over two months, we have a new way of life in a kind of stasis, and the work that artists are making is responding to that. As lockdown lifts slightly but we remain physically distanced, the new commissions from making theatre for extraordinary times look towards the future, emerging into our towns and villages and building a bridge to ‘after’- whatever that looks like. Theatre company Trigger are installing a portable museum filled with objects that have become important to us during lockdown, and Emma Frankland is creating a performance duet with the river Shoreham, as the tides remind us that nothing is forever.

In this round of commissions, we are supporting projects to take place in Kent, Hampshire, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hertfordshire and Surrey, making theatre for families in their homes, young people receiving cancer treatment, queuing supermarket shoppers and those who are just out for a walk in Folkestone.

The six commissioned projects:

Emma Frankland – River Adur Duet

Emma Frankland presents a series of performance duets with the river Adur, sharing stories collected from the people of Shoreham-by-Sea. Reflecting on our experience of lockdown and inspired by the natural rhythm of the river. Shoreham is an estuary town, so everything revolves around the river, punctuated by the daily ebb and flow of the river, which moves from mud flats at low tide to brackish water at high, reminding us that moments come and go.  Nothing is forever.

Toby Peach and Beyond Arts – Adventures in Isolation

Adventures in Isolation is an interactive digital exchange made by young cancer survivors for other young people who are undergoing treatment in hospital units in Surrey and Hampshire. Recipients will be sent a digital gift pack. They’ll uncover stories, be given artistic missions and be encouraged to respond creatively through making their own videos, voice recordings and pieces of writing. Beyond Arts make art with and for young people who have experienced cancer.

Alison Neighbour – Postcard Chronicles

Postcard Chronicles is a new way of exploring a familiar place – postcards appear in the Folkestone landscape containing surprises and provocations, and we invite you to respond and share the magic that you find out and about. Perhaps a set of postcards will even pop through your door or end up in your food delivery – take them on an adventure and see where it leads you…

Out of Chaos – Boss, We Messed Up 

Boss, We Messed Up is a gleeful spin on a gangster caper, delivered as a series of live telephone calls from a hapless junior mobster to their formidable boss. Audiences sign up to play and at the designated time either Marty the Mouth or Mary the Muscle will call, seeking fresh orders as a straightforward heist goes horribly wrong. Will you end up with the loot… or bodies in the boot?  Suitable for landlines, mobiles or internet call and experienced by a single audience member or a group / family. This project will target specific South East community groups but also offer performance experiences to all.

Trigger working with Savinder Bual and Elena Blanco– Curio

Curio, an ambient light installation and portable museum. Curious passersby can peer in through the letterboxes to discover objects contributed by our neighbours.

This summer we will work with residents in Hitchin to find out what they have been crafting, making or about what has become important to them during the recent Covid-19 lockdown. Curio was originally commissioned by Bristol City Council, Illuminate Light Festival and funded by Arts Council England.
By Savinder Bual and Elena Blanco and local residents

Julia Roberts and Culture Shift – Waiting for my real life to begin…

What do young, graduate performers and makers do now?

Doorstep Theatre Makers is a group of 5 new theatre makers who have come together to create new work which reflects the frustration, impatience and yearning for ‘normality’ of their generation. Five site-specific performances will be viewed by live audiences in Seaford, Lancing and Brighton, these will then shared on film, provoking us to think about how we respond to the challenges of lockdown and the future when our “real lives” begin.…

making theatre for extraordinary times is a limited fund supported by the The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. For more information on previously funded projects please click here

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