• Ollie Norton-Smith

Lockdown living

It's about 3 months since we opened Speed Dial at VAULT Festival in March. Blimey. It's absolutely crazy to me that it's been that long: it feels like we were living in a different world but yet if feels like so little has happened.

Hamish, Joe and I have been working on revitalising and restructuring the Speed Dial script. I think all of us involved in the creation of the VAULT show feel incredibly lucky that we performed when we did. A week later and the looming influence of the Coronavirus and imminent lockdown would have made for a hugely diminished experience, and we may not have even been able to perform at all.

We have no idea when we will be able to perform Speed Dial, nor any other show, live to an audience again. The theatre landscape is already hugely changed, perhaps irrevocably so, and that may be no bad thing - it certainly should be a very positive thing. We have the opportunity to remake theatre in this country in a way that better reflects and enables the diverse desires of audiences and artists alike.

Like almost everyone in the theatre industry, it feels impossible to plan for the future right now. Our original plans were to be back in the rehearsal room around about now, spending a few weeks to redraft and polish the show into a finalised version. Our aspirations of touring and securing extended runs in theatres in London and nationwide now seem misguided and impossible. Theatre will survive as it has done for millennia, but many theatres won't.

With the absence of Arts Council individual project grants for the foreseeable future, combined with the paucity of funding available from theatres financially ravaged by the combination of the Coronavirus crisis and appalling government leadership, we will have to re-evaluate the models with which we make our shows and perform them to audiences. That being said, we remain cautiously optimistic. If nothing else, we trust that in Speed Dial we will have a production that we know works and that we hope audiences will want to see when it is safe to do so. We have big dreams as a company, and for this show, and we'll be ready to try to navigate and define the new landscape in which we'll find ourselves (hopefully) soon.

It is a time of huge uncertainty and upheaval across society. We want to continue doing what we do and hope that you'll continue to join us in the audience, or at the other side of a computer screen if that's what it takes. For us, we're just waiting for the time when we can get back to playing together in a rehearsal room, and onstage with audiences. We hope to see you again soon.


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