(taken from our newsletter, May 22, 2020)
Wherever you are, we genuinely hope that this message finds you safe and well in these Strange Times In Which We Live...
It's been a rocky road for us these past months, but I wanted to share what we've been up to, and crucially to thank you for your continued support and good wishes. Your messages have been such a boost to us!
The photo above was taken in 2015 - a slightly tongue in cheek shot to celebrate when Justin and I had just put 'Macbeth at the Redcliffe Caves' into motion for the first time. The pub is The Shakespeare, just round the corner from the Arnolfini, and opposite us (tho not pictured) is the excellent Edmund McKay, who has designed the lighting for all our shows to date. Apparently Justin and I had even decided to co-ordinate in green - unintentional, I assure you...
5 years, 6 productions, 1 fundraiser, 1 award, 2 award nominations, and a Global Pandemic later, we - like so many of you - have been wondering what the future might hold. In the performing arts we are acutely aware that our industry - one of the first to close - will be one of the last to return, and one that is, in the recent words of legendary producer Sonia Friedman "incompatible with social distancing" (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/what-to-see/theatre-stands-brink-ruin/).
Very early on in the 'lockdown' we gathered as a company to discuss what - if any - would (could?) be our role in these strange times. We have no video recordings of our shows to stream online, so could we create a production whose 'site' to be 'specific' to was the internet? Possibly...but it didn't feel right. Our instincts were to react, to make, to *do* something - because everything was falling down. Not because it would have been the best thing we could have made at the time...and to be honest, creativity has felt rather elusive amongst the very real challenges of whether or not we could make ends meet as both individuals and as a company.
So we decided to keep it small and instead offer what support we could to the freelancers we've worked with over the years - simply by hosting regular online play readings. These have ranged from The Rover by female Restoration playwright Aphra Behn, to Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth, and a continuing project to read all of Shakespeare's History plays in order. As well as an opportunity to stay connected, these also offer inspiration and allow us to dream of future shows that might yet be.
A New Structure...
Speaking of the future, we've decided to use this time to put in motion an exciting new structure, which we believe will help us to not only survive but thrive in the years to come: applying to become a charity!
Since the beginning we have been a not-for-profit company, focussing on quality shows, exciting places and aiming to break even in doing so. We believe our values and aims are the right foundation for a charitable organisation, and have found the conversations around who we are and what we might be in this new structure inspiring, hopeful and positive. A change now means access to more funding (what remains of it post-COVID....), the ability to expand our organisation across the country and, most importantly, bringing our work to more amazing spaces and audiences.
We already have an outstanding Chairperson for our Board in the brilliant Vanessa Moon - who has championed our work as an enthusiastic audience member for many years - and we are now seeking additional trustees to help us in this all-important transition and early period. If you think this is something you, or someone you know, would be interested in, we strongly encourage you to apply!
For more details and how to apply: CLICK ME!
A New Production
In the months before COVID-19 changed everything, we were already well on our way to producing our biggest and most ambitious show ever - a cast of 20 or more, an intricate storyline with a promenade route, featuring one of Bristol's best hidden gems. Most importantly, we would be bringing something different to an area of Bristol that doesn't often get acknowledged. Our ambition for this production remains, and as soon as it is safe to do so, we'll get the wheels turning to bring it to life. Until then there is plenty for us to do with developing the story, planning the logistics and raising the all important funding to allow us to make it financially accessible to as many people as possible.
Here's hoping that we will soon have a new photo, maybe even in co-ordinated green, to celebrate our rebirth!
Best wishes to you all,
Insane Root Theatre