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The News That Didn’t Make It: Episode 22

Each week, Hillary Dziminski looks at the news that didn’t make the live broadcast of Stage Door Live. This week The Royal Court’s living newspaper, a Playwrights Realm, and more…

“I am more concerned than at any point in time since late April,” chair of NPHET’s epidemiological modelling advisory group, Prof Philip Nolan told a press briefing on Wednesday.

– The Irish Times

See that woman at the top holding a newspaper that’s on fire? That might as well be me. During last night’s Stage Door Live we were halfway through an interview with Liam Fitzgerald from EPIC Working Group when an article broke in the Irish Times. Long story short, the Government is having two special meetings on Friday, which most likely means we’ll be regressing to Level 3. You can read a bit more about that here.

So in light of this bleak, though not unexpected, turn of events, I’ll be covering only good news this week.

Instead of a Season, Playwrights Realm Slates Artists’ Support Programming

So I guess I missed this when it was announced back in May — The Playwrights Realm decided to transition to a full time playwrights service organisation for 2020-2021 instead of having a normal season of productions.

Rather than pivot its productions to socially distant or digital productions, the Realm will use funds that had been earmarked for 2020-21 productions to instead support playwright services structured around the needs of the Realm’s playwrights. 

It’s back in the headlines now because they’ve recently announced a whole bunch of additional support initiatives like an online mentorship programme and a new International Theatremakers Award, as well as free online community classes, workshops, and panels.

You can learn more about The Playwrights Realm here. Spoiler alert: they are pretty awesome.

Nimax chief Nica Burns. Photo: Justin Griffiths-Williams | Source: The Stage

Nimax chief Nica Burns reveals further West End reopening plans

Any headline that contains the word ‘reopening’ makes me simultaneously very excited and very anxious. But in this case the excitement is overriding the nauseating, headache-inducing fear because THE WEST END IS BACK (ALMOST)! Not that I’ll be able to travel to London to enjoy it but great news for my friends in London.

The Apollo, the Lyric, the Duchess, the Garrick, the Palace, and the Vaudeville Theatres are all set to reopen by the end of the year.

While the theatres will not make a profit, the extra income will help to retain about 220 permanent staff and hire 138 front-of-house and performance staff. Previously, 130 front-of-house and performance staff were made redundant, and they will be able to reapply for the roles.

– The Stage

The shows that are slated to return include This Is Going To Hurt by former NHS doctor Adam Kay, the hit fringe musical Six, and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Nimax Chief Executive Nica Burns says she’s ‘made a very carefully thought-through gamble’ when it comes to the decision to reopen.

Plenty of new regulations and safety measures have been implemented to make the theatregoing experience Covid-proof; let’s hope audiences are willing to get back out there.

Photograph: Tristram Kenton/the Guardian | Source: The Stage

Royal Court theatre reopens to present ‘living newspaper’

The Royal Court is reopening too! I don’t often wish I lived in London but right now…I kinda do. The Royal Court will open in November, not with a play, but with a ‘living newspaper’. The project pays tribute to a similar project that took place in the United States in the 1930’s called the Federal Theatre Project, which engaged unemployed writers to make ‘socially aware drama that grasped urgent issues’.

“One day during lockdown I remembered it and how vital it had been not only for saving the theatre industry after the Depression but for encouraging those [who were] previously underrepresented and for speaking truth to power with celebration and joy.”

Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of The Royal Court

Performances will start on November 12th and will be presented to socially distanced in-person audiences as well as online audiences. There will be six weekly editions of the living newspaper which run from 11 AM to 11PM. According to The Guardian, ‘Each edition is said to come with headlines, features and columns, created by writers working with actors, designers, stage managers, technicians and choreographers. Audiences will also encounter topical satire, dating articles, cartoons and a sport section within the building.’

teamLab, Exhibition view of teamLab Borderless, 2018, Tokyo © teamLab, courtesy Pace Gallery | Source: The Art Newspaper

Saudi Arabia pushes soft power by launching new teamLab digital art museum in Jeddah

So teamLab is a Tokyo-based technology group who make immersive installations/experiences that I would kill to see in person. Like, seriously look at this. And LOOK AT THIS! Incredible.

teamLab are making headlines now because they’ve just entered into a ten-year agreement with the Saudi Ministry of Culture to develop new works for a planned digital art museum in Jeddah, scheduled to launch in 2023.

“The collective team of artists, creatives, architects, programmers, CG animators, and more, will create teamLab Borderless Jeddah along the same creative concept of the teamLab Borderless museums in Tokyo and Shanghai, using the latest technology to form one borderless world.”

– The Saudi Ministry of Culture, The Art Newspaper

This new museum is part of a number of initiatives intended to ‘promote the cultural credentials of Saudi Arabia, helping to diversify the economy and deliver a more “open” image of the country’, including the Desert X sculpture exhibition. The exhibit, which opened earlier this year, actually prompted the resignation of three of Desert X’s board members, including art historian Yael Lipschutz who said the project was ‘about striking a deal with a national government… that is completely undemocratic’.

In any case, teamLab’s installations look like exactly the kind of decadent escapist beauty that I really need these days so if you need me, you can find me gazing longingly at their website and counting down the days until 2020 is over.

That’s all for me this week, readers. Stay safe. Wear a mask (over both your nose and mouth). Hug a dog. Bask in the sunshine. Eat something nice. You deserve it.


Accomplice Appendix

EPIC Working Group – #ThisIsWhoWeAre: You can find some very slick social media graphics available to download here. Even if you can’t donate to EPIC or the NCFA, sharing the campaign on social media is an easy and free way to support the industry. There is also a link here where you can find a pre-formatted email to your TDs.

NCFA – Donate: The National Campaign for the Arts are working tirelessly to advocate for artists, arts workers, and arts organisations at this particularly difficult moment in time. Help them help us by donating or just checking out their website for other ways you can help champion this invaluable group of people.

Samaritans Ireland: I’ve shared this before but it seems a good time to be sharing it again. Samaritans offer free, 24/7 support on the phone or by email; there’s even an app. This is an extremely stressful time. There is no shame in needing to talk. Mind yourselves.

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