I have a love affair with Big Telly Theatre company and it is a long drawn out affair. I have loved the company for years and have been very lucky to have worked with them on a few occasions in the past. The reason I love this theatre company is very easy to explain, they do not stop, they are always expanding their skills, their imaginations and their creativity. The team are one of the hardest working companies I have ever meet and I would love to take a few days to explore the imagination of artistic director Zoe Seaton.
So when faced with isolation, closed theatres, cancelled tours and productions what does this team do but reach out to some of the best actors, stage management, set designers and writers in the business and create not one but two new productions!
Productions which come straight into the home of their audience via Zoom and productions which have some fantastic technological wizardry built in. Productions which make you feel like you are part of the production, which banish any loneliness you may be feeling in lockdown and bring you into a new world with a friendly beautiful new community.
I have been introduced to Creation Theatre though Big Telly and I think I may have a crush on this company as well and when they both come together it’s magical! The Tempest was an awakening of the theatrical senses, senses which have been dormant in me since the start of this lockdown. With one click on my phone into the Zoom app, I was transported through a storm to meet Prospero and his spirit Ariel who both command and guide us through the Shakespearean tale with an ensemble of highly amusing and loveable characters. The virtual world of this far away island is made up of realistic theatrical backdrops and surreal images which create both fun and chaos. The wizardry comes with the perfect timing of actors lines, mic switches, camera switches, epic soundscapes and the interaction with the audience, you are glued to your screens, watching the action and taking part. I’ll not lie this production reduced me to tears, happy tears, very happy tears. It reminded me what I was missing, the murmurs of an audience, the applause and the feeling of being part of a theatre community. It’s hard to describe without gushing but it is definitely one of those moments you need to experience to understand. I implore you to do just that, due to popular demand a few extra performances have been added this week check them out here.
This afternoon I logged back into Zoom for Operation Elsewhere an adaptation of Jane Talbots tale of Irish myths and Big Tellys immersive theatre game of the same name. I adore Irish myths and have researched the origin of my own name various times so I had high expectations for this tale. The narrator of Operation Elsewhere was a helpful border security agent, who patrolled the border which connects the real world with the fairylands. He however seemed to be a little bit of a rebel, breaking work place policy by telling the first mythical tale of Oisin and Niamh. And so with my helpful boarding pass (which was provided with my ticket an hour before the streaming curtain rises) I travelled to the unknown, through familiar lands and with some familiar faces. Like The Tempest this is very much an ensemble piece, all actors are working alone with green screen in their separate homes but under the stage managers control (the fabulous Sinead Owens) it feels like the characters are together, interacting and reacting to each other. Rosie McClelland, Nicky Harley, Rhodri Lewis, Keith Singleton, Michael Johnston, Chris Grant and Cillian Lenahan provide an action packed hour of entertainment. They run, they hide, they sing and they skive. Every single one of them and all the creatives deserve a massive round of applause for another successful live theatre production in the current times.
Overall another fantastically fun afternoon spent between a tick and a tock with my favourite creatives.The only question I’m left to ask is what’s next?
Tickets are going fast for Operation Elsewhere with tonight’s production being sold out but if you are quick, you can grab a pass to the unknown here.
Emer D xx