It has been a tough year for the performing arts – with coronavirus wiping out shows worldwide and leaving thousands of actors, actresses, musicians and playwrights without work for months on end.
But Theatre on the Coast – only in its second year – was determined to make its mark once again in the seaside town of Southwold.
And, thanks to some technical intervention and a lot of hard work, it managed to broadcast six incredible events online which have delighted audiences at home and abroad.
The virtual event produced by Matthew Townshend Productions (mtp) meant the cast and crew could meet social distancing and government guidelines while providing entertainment and comfort to those missing the normalities of day-to-day life.
On top of that, it provided a beacon of hope to those in the industry who have suffered so severely by the pandemic.
Matthew Townshend, who set up mtp over 20 years ago, said: “Coronavirus has had a devastating and detrimental impact on the theatre industry, and we realised early on that we needed to adapt in order to survive.
“Modifying the season to take place online allowed our loyal audience to continue to watch but also provided an opportunity for those who wouldn’t have been able to attend to enjoy the shows.
“We have been delighted with the amount of positive feedback and support we have received this year and are grateful to those who got behind us and embraced the changes for a new kind of theatre experience.”
Subscribers were able to log in live on the night across four weekends to watch all six shows.
All the performances were rehearsed, performed, and streamed direct from Southwold Arts Centre, the home of summer theatre for more than 80 years. People were also given the chance to watch on demand, at their leisure until the end of September.
Performances included drama, comedy, new short plays, and music and featured new commissions: All 4 One from Jan Etherington and Gavin Petrie and Attagirls! from noted historian and writer Stewart Ross.
Theatre on the “virtual” Coast also welcomed celebrities: Astrid King with her tribute to her mother, the pioneering US comedian Peg Lynch, and composer Denis King with Optimistic People.
International star Robert Powell also joined the season, bringing his take on Charles Dickens, a celebration.
Mr Townshend said: “Everyone at mtp would like to thank those involved in the production for the success of Theatre on the “virtual” Coast, from the cast, crew and creatives to all of our wonderful subscribers. We’re planning how we can continue to share the performances, so watch this space!”