North East theatre company’s audience grows from dozens to potentially thousands thanks to latest live streamed production
A theatre company’s latest live stream production will see it broadcast to potentially thousands of people worldwide – including the play’s writer 8,500 miles away.
Only four years ago Elysium Theatre Company, which is based in Durham, was putting on its first play in front of just dozens of people at the city’s Assembly Rooms.
But its latest offering – Hello and Goodbye, by South Africa’s leading playwright Athol Fugard – will be filmed and streamed across the internet for the world to see, when it is performed at Northern School of Art, Hartlepool, at 7.30pm on Wednesday 23rd June.
Students from the school’s Film & TV Production Design course will set up and manage the live streaming of the show, which has been co-produced by Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, Hexham. The show’s director Jake Murray said: “It is amazing to think that Athol Fugard could be watching one of his own plays online for the very first time, thousands of miles away from where it is being performed.
“I would love it if he does get to watch, it would mean the world to me and the company. He’s one of the world’s great playwrights and a living legend. We wanted to broadcast the show online, instead of embarking on a tour, so that if we were in lockdown we could still do it as planned. This collaboration between ourselves, the Queen’s Hall and the Northern School of Art in Hartlepool truly brings together the best of the North East. Expect more to come!”
Featuring just two characters - Johnnie and Hester Smits – Hello and Goodbye is set in the 1960s in Apartheid South Africa. It is a funny, moving drama about families, siblings, love, regret and the debts we owe each other, emotional as well as financial.
It is the seventh production from four-year-old Elysium. Almost all of its plays have toured theatres across the North East including Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, Hexham; The Exchange in North Shields; Gala Theatre and City Theatre, Durham; and The Majestic Theatre, Darlington.
Hello and Goodbye stars Jake’s co-founders Danny Solomon and Hannah Ellis Ryan. Hannah shot to stardom after appearing in Coronation Street in 2018 as ‘baddie’ Hannah Gilmore, the lover of Jim McDonald and impersonator of his late daughter Katie.
The Australian has lived in the UK for eight years, and is excited to perform for her family who will be able to watch the show from thousands of miles away thanks to cameras on the night.
She said: “I am so excited! Even my mum in Brisbane will be able to watch me for the first time in years. I can send my whole family a link for them to watch me from thousands of miles away, and that’s something that is so special, and something I have to be grateful for.”
She added: “We want to give the audience the feeling of an authentic theatre experience, even though they aren’t in the room. Acting for theatre and camera is very different, so it will be a challenge to act for both! In a theatre, it is all about reaching to the back of the room, whereas for something like Coronation Street, it can be about even the smallest of eyebrow movements.”
Danny, who has never acted for camera before, added: “The live aspect can be quite scary, and it will be different to just playing to a seated audience, but I am looking forward to getting a couple of run-throughs under my belt to be ready for the real thing. It is great that the play can be available to so many people at once, without them having to leave their home. It is a wonderful idea and I imagine we will be doing more live-streaming in future.”
Tickets for the show can be purchased for £5 (£3.50 concessions) here: https://www.queenshall.co.uk/events/hello-and-goodbye
Ticket holders will be given a link and a password, and can then watch the play live on Wednesday 23rd June or ‘catch-up’ from June 25th until July 1.