Theatre goes online!

by Karisa

Covid-19 has changed everything, and at this point nobody really knows when life will go back to “normal” whatever that even means anymore…

One thing that I’ve really missed is the experience of heading out for a night at the theatre, be it watching a serious performance piece or a fun musical performance, watching performers doing what they do best on stage is something that I love so soooooo much, and with the theatre industry one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and the associated lockdown measures, it’s been absolutely heartbreaking to think that all of these amazingly talented people and beautiful theatre venues are really struggling to make ends meet.

Toward the end of May I also heard the incredibly sad news that the Kalk Bay Theatre was closing. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I was a very big Kalk Bay fan girl. I freakin’ loved both the place and the team behind their many successful productions. It was always that feel-good experience that would brighten up any week, no matter how stressed out you were or how long your week had been, I always really looked forward to it. So this news really hit hard. 🙁

I think now that we’re in this world of classifying jobs as essential vs non-essential, artists & performers can easily fall into the non-essential category. But what we’re forgetting is that while we’re all dealing with quite a lot right now, there’s nothing like the escape a good movie, a good song, or a good threatre production provides.

BUT hey, it’s not all doom & gloom! What I’ve also loved is witnessing the pure human ingenuity that’s sprung up all over the place these last few months. Musicians and comedians are hosting virtual shows using Zoom, Facebook Live & Instagram Live and services like BUSQR are offering ways for artists to still earn an income. In the threatre world, there’s also been some cool happenings. Two which caught my eye recently are The Fugard‘s new “The Fugard at Home” programme & the National Arts Festival which has gone virtual this year.

Let’s start with: The Fugard!

Their new online programme which launched on 1 June features a new streaming platform where you can stream some of The Fugard Theatre’s acclaimed past productions. This is how it works:

  • Register online using your email address
  • You’ll then receive an email with a streaming token
  • This stream token is valid for 48 hours before it expires
  • You can use the token 3 times before it expires (i.e clicking away from the browser window = 1 use)

Right now you can watch two features:

  • Falls the Shadow: The Life and Times of Athol Fugard – Director Tony Palmer’s 2012 film about the South African playwright, novelist, actor, and director.
  • The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek (available until 20 July) – the 2016 production starring Tshamano Sebe, Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Sne Dladla and Lihko Mango. Written and directed by Athol Fugard and co-directed by Paula Fourie, the play is inspired by the life of farm worker Nukain Mabuza, a self-taught artist living in segregated, pre-liberation South Africa.

But you should also keep an eye out for monthly announcements of what is streaming and what is coming next.

For those who have not yet had the pleasure of visiting The Fugard, you can now do a 360° virtual tour and then there’s also The Performer Series which should be launching soon. The Performer Series will feature pieces of the productions they had planned to present as part of their 2020 season, all which have been filmed under strict hygiene regulations. Once launched they are aiming to release a new episode every week with a donation platform available to support the performers featured.

All of the above comes at no cost – but donations are welcome (and needed). So if you do watch one of their streaming offerings, do consider visiting their donations page to share some love.

Up next: The National Arts Festival which usually takes place in Grahamstown, but this year have gone completely virtual.

That’s right, experience all the festival action from the safety of your own home. Check out their daily programme over here (which you’ll notice does formally come to an end today BUT is available until 16 July).

There are 3 different ways to watch and engage with their 2020 line-up

  • Purchase an all access pass for R600 (access to the full vNAF & Jazz programme), or a day pass for R80 (access to all shows which premiered on a particular day).
  • Watch video on demand on vFringe (ticket prices start from R25)
  • Access digital galleries and stalls for FREE on the Virtual Green

I was very excited to spot some familiar faces from the Kalk Bay Theatre on the vFringe platformManband (produced by Followspot Productions) features Ash and Brad Searle, Alex Tops, Liam McDermott & Gareth Christie and is 55min of pure musical fun. I was lucky enough to see this show in person at the Kalk Bay Theatre last year and really loved it. Well worth the R75 ticket price.

The Ballad of Lucy & Alexander features two Kalk Bay regulars, Lucy & Alex Tops. Now I haven’t seen this one just yet, but will definitely be buying a ticket (only R50) because I’ve seen them both in action and just know this will be a goodie. Lucy has some of the most impressive vocals you’ll ever hear while Alex adds the comedic charm. What’s not to love?

Right, so hopefully I’ve given you some alternative options for your evening (or anytime really) viewing. I know it’s not the same as the real thing, but until the real thing is available again (and with the relaxed level 3 restrictions – maybe sooner rather than later), this is a good way to get your theatre fix.

Know of any other online theatre offerings that are worth checking out? Then please share in the comments section below.


1 comment

Christine Jul 11, 2020 - 8:48 am

Please keep me updated – great initiative!


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