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Streams of observations: Tales from the Front Line @TalawaTheatreCo

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The final films in the online series from Talawa Theatre Company’s Tales from the Front Line are now available. The series uses verbatim interviews with Black key workers to explore what it’s like living in Britain today. The pandemic, Windrush Scandal, Black Lives Matter are all reference points to suggest that the post-pandemic world should be a different one.  One of the new episodes features Adjoa Andoh, as a teacher with vaccine hesitancy. Yet among the disinformation and noise that’s enough to fill Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon, she decides to protect herself and get vaccinated. Since sometimes, all her children need is a hug.  Tales From the Front Line aims to create a record of the stories of Black people on the front line of the Covid crisis and designed as space for Back workers to share their experiences. Black artists and creatives have then taken the testimonies to convey stories with music, performance and choreography. The final series of films are available fro

Resilient streams: Safe @HackneyEmpire

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Titling a piece "Safe" at the moment evokes all sorts of meanings. Is it about going out in London? Is it about social distancing and testing? Is it about the latest vaccine? But don't one needs not have a pandemic.  Here, safe is about the basic need for young people to grow up in a safe and supportive environment. Particularly when they are discovering that they lesbian, gay, bi, trans or queer.  In this verbatim piece, writer Alexis Gregory weaves together a series of stories about the lives of young people and the fine line between being accepted and being on the street. The young people are trying to find their identity while their families, religion, race and class are forcing them to be categorised, classified and standardised into something else.  Taken from interviews with young people met through the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) with live music and additional words by poet Yrsa Daley it sets out how easy it can be to fall into poverty, abuse and addiction without

Stream of conscious: Black Matter

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With theatre's closed over the past year and creatives out of work, it's not surprising to see that with everything going on, there's plenty to write about. Or put into a song cycle. Actor Giles Terera presents his new song cycle Black Matter inspired by the events he saw on London's streets in a streamed concert event this month.  Living in London's Soho over the past summer of lockdown, Black Lives Matter, Eat Out To Help Out provided plenty of inspiration for observations about being a black man in Britain today. He notes that "I saw Soho shift from deserted tranquillity, where the only sounds were birds and church bells to the noise and heat of demands for social justice and civil unrest. I saw couples and families sneaking bike rides, and I saw violence – protests and peacemakers, homelessness and empty properties. People helping each other and people hurting each other. I saw confusion and hope and strength." The topics vary from deportations and th

Random doubts and gaslighting: Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels

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Sending a semi-naked photo to a boyfriend sets off a chain reaction of events between two women in Athena Steven's Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels . Is it a case of overthinking everything or is some power game at play? Writer Athena Steven's has repurposed her play into a streamed online event split into mini-episodes released every night over February. Now that we're in March, you don't have to deal with the suspense of waiting for the next instalment, and you can binge it all in one sitting online. It feels like a part drama, part theatre at home and part paranoia. The story unfolds through monologues from the two women. They don't have names other than the girlfriend (Evelyn Lockley) and the best friend (Stevens). What brings them together is a man who turns out to be bringing out their darker side. They begin to question everything, and what slowly emerges is a tale of power and control.  It's imaginatively captured on stream on the YouTube platform.

It's a kind of magic: The Sorcerer's Apprentice @tsamusical

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  The story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice is updated to modern tastes in this funny and engaging new family musical. Here a father and his rebellious daughter discover their magic and save their town from a bunch of brooms while making a few observations about parenting, science and the environment.  Filmed at the Southwark Playhouse in February, it's also a reminder about what we're still missing from live theatre. While it's great to see a new show streamed online, you also have to let your imagination remind you where there would be applause and laughter from this energetic and thoughtful production. Hopefully, we will get the chance to see this show live someday.  Written by Richard Hough and Ben Morales Frost, the story takes place in a small northern town called Midgard. It's on the brink of environmental destruction due to the endless search for prosperity. Eva, played by Mary Moore (making her professional stage/streaming debut), is a school dropout. But she

Summer streams: West End Musical Drive-In #Westendmusicaldrivein

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West End Musical Drive-in was an ingenious way to combat social distancing regulations over the past summer and give performers the chance to be on stage during the pandemic.  Now, if you missed the excitement and enthusiasm of the 2020 concerts, Stream Theatre is giving you a chance over the next month to re-live the experience from home. The streamed shows feel like they capture the relief, the raw energy and the occasional rain shower that made up the summer of 2020. The shows were staged at a drive-in venue off the London north circular, with various West End performers. Part show, part drive-in and part immersive experience. Car horns and headlights replace applause. Mobile phones are encouraged to live tweet and mood lighting. It’s a great concept that hopefully will extend beyond the pandemic as an alternative way to see West End performers. Layton Williams (from Everyone’s Talking About Jamie), Shan Ako (Les Miserables), Maiya Quansah Breed (Six) and Shanay Holmes (Rent) were

A matter of laughs and death: Good Grief

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Another week in lockdown passes. The chances of theatres reopening anytime soon still seem remote. And so experiments with the possibilities for theatrical streams continues with Good Grief .  Theatre streams have been filmed plays, staged readings or even staged like a zoom meeting. Good Grief plays with the feeling of a staged production. Scene changes and props are moved around on camera and titles pop up on screen to set the scene.  It opens at the end of a party. It looks like it's been a big night of drinking and going on. But it turns out that it was after a wake. In between sorting out the mess from the party Cat (Sian Clifford) and Adam (Nikesh Patel) stumble around the topic of losing someone they both loved to cancer. The piece tracks Cat and Adam coming to terms with their loss, their feelings of guilt about leaving things not the way they had hoped. And they're trying to navigate the niceties and expected behaviours following a death in modern Britain. What's t

Streaming Through: Little Wars (A reading)

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Is it week six or seven in this national lockdown? Lockdowns have been a chance to go on long walks through central London. It's fascinating to go through the West End and see theatres advertising shows that would have been there for a fraction of the time they’ve now been. Jennifer Saunders mugging it in Blythe Spirit comes to mind. It's as if time has stopped and it's still March 2020. But going on long walks has led to missing some online theatrical events. And so it's great to see that Little Wars has returned for another two weeks on Stream Theatre.  Set in the French Alps at the home of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (her lover). They're hosting a party that also happens to be on the evening of the German invasion. It's a fantasy party that imagines the guests being Agatha Christie, Lillian Hellman and Dorothy Parker. There's another mysterious guest who goes by the name of Mary. As the night wears on and the drink continues to flow, sparring abou