When the theatres all closed and our UK tour of Fly High got cancelled in an instant we, along with many other small theatre companies, looked at how we could take our work online and continue to reach audiences.
We, as two experienced theatre makers, quickly started having ideas for new projects - a series of playscripts suitable for families to act out together at home, a live interactive choose your own adventure for the Library Summer Reading Challenge, a series of online, live workshops for schools for the autumn term, etc. - we, like so many others, were working out how to carry on sustaining ourselves and provide work for our freelance colleagues whilst also making projects which would be useful and bring joy to family audiences.
We were coping, and learning, and making stuff up as we went along.
However, something pretty blinking amazing was about to happen. ...
Enter, digital stage left, Mr Christoper Silvester (Chris) - now, fondly, known (by us) as The Wix Wizard.
A theatre production manager by training he has, over the last few years, built up a business as a website designer and become an accredited Wix Partner.
Jemma had worked with him a while back and so, when we realised how reliant we were becoming on our website, she approached him for some help.
And that’s when things started to get REALLY exciting.
Chris, with his knowledge of both Wix and Theatre, started to design for us something quite beautiful, as well as functional. Our website has the ability to grow, as we continue to develop our digital offer.
However, there’s one project in particular where Chris pulled out all the digital design stops for us.
Together-Apart is a project which takes place in school classrooms and in Space. It’s a project about being alone, being together, and how talking about our feelings, and writing (both creatively and technically) can help us become more resilient. Once a week for three weeks, classrooms dial the Captain of Star Ship Fly High and through a series of games, exercises and interventions, they help the Captain get back home again.
When we initially envisaged this we thought it would be an actor on Zoom, possibly with a fancy background.
Chris, however, has designed for us a portal which makes it feel like the participants are stepping into the world of Intergalactic Travel. The colours, the fonts, the buttons, the interface, everything adds up to as magical an experience as possible - it’s as close to ‘Total Theatre’ as we can get.
Initial feedback from the schools has been great - ‘The children really feel like they’re talking to an astronaut.’ … ‘They love dialling in to the website - it looks amazing.’
As we continue to navigate these strange times we know that, currently, our biggest asset and absolute necessity is having a production manager / website designer as part of our team of incredible freelancers.
And the further we go down this path the more we will continue to consider how our website is a huge part of whatever story we are telling to our audiences.
NOTES: Together-Apart is funded by the National Lottery Community Foundation, the John Thaw Foundation, and the John Lyon Charity. We are massively supported by artsdepot in London and our amazing astronaut is Captain Phil Yarrow. We are currently in the process of applying for more funding to be able to deliver this project in lots more schools and also offer it to family groups.
If you would like to book this for your school, become a Champion of this project and/or a funder, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org