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Streamed play to draw attention to threatened theatre

  • Date

    Fri 3 Apr 20

Past and present students from our Acting School are to stage a free online performance of a classic play this weekend, using their platform to draw attention to the plight of a local theatre.

Students and alumni from East 15 Acting School are responding to the current closure of theatres around the country by staging a free online performance of a favourite drama.

The play, John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore, will be streamed live at 4pm this Saturday via YouTube, with the production using the hashtag #StreamTheStage.

The cast are keen to use their platform to help raise funds for the Brookside Theatre in Romford, which is under threat as a result of COVID-19.

East 15 alumna Annabeth Westerman-Blake is behind the venture: "The idea came about when I was tidying my room during isolation and discovered my old, beaten up copy of ‘Tis Pity from when I studied it at ‘A’ Level. I remembered how much I really loved the show. Having seen so many creatives doing wonderful things on social media, I thought it would be fun to try and put it on via a live stream."

Annabeth found other members of the East 15 community were equally excited: “I think everyone is really needing something to focus on, or a creative outlet right now, especially recent graduates. It’s a worrying time for everyone, and this just seemed like a nice way to relax, have fun, and put out something positive.”

Annabeth assembled her actors in under 24 hours, with all but two of the fourteen-strong cast either current students or recent graduates of East 15.

Many of her cast volunteered via social media. Staging a play in these unique circumstances has helped the team develop new skills.

Annabeth Westerman-Blake said: "I had never made any kind of poster or advertisement before. Twitter I have used for a while, but it’s been fun figuring out what to post to catch people’s interest."

Live streaming presents a number of challenges. Cast members Tom Clare, Em Thane and Emily Millwood set to work trimming the original play down from a three to one-and-a-half hours.

Current MFA Acting (International) student Anant Varman, who will feature in the performance as Richardetto, has led on the technical side, running test streams.

Annabeth says the cast have "all really thrown themselves into the play, figuring out costumes, make up and props, learning lines, and even thinking of ways to portray physical elements of the plays events, such as the sword fights. Initially I had just suggested a reading, but it is the team effort and dedication that has turned it into a full-on performance, and I couldn’t be happier!

"If this takes off, I will definitely think about where I can take #StreamTheStage. For now, I’m enjoying reading a dramatic play with my talented friends, and being able to offer something positive to the theatre world in an uncertain time."