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A Distant Christmas: Rehearsing in 2020

Posted by Julie Ellerby, 20th November 2020, 16:16pm

Rehearsing in 2020 is different. How will the show be staged? How do we perform without touching? Another cast member in isolation…again?! Usually, the path to performance is a long and straight one, however not in the age of Coronavirus. The uphill hike to performance is uncertain and daunting for all creative teams at the moment.

With that said, there are still many aspects of working on a production that remain the same, despite the obstacles. As undergraduate Drama students in our graduating year, we are expected to demonstrate a high standard of professionalism. Learning our lines, working with the director on character development and with the professional production team to bring the story to life through costume and technical effects are all still par for the course.

We knew, going into this rehearsal process, that there would be obvious minor barriers such as wearing masks and socially distancing for all cast and crew in a studio space. These seem like small and obvious points but, as performers, we did not initially think about how these challenges would affect the production, especially in the rehearsal stages. It soon became apparent that we would need to spend many more hours tweaking scenes that we thought were already blocked, but needed to be changed to fit the camera lens, whilst also maintaining our safe distance from one another. Simple tasks have become a lengthier process.

So far (touch wood!) we have only had one performer go into isolation, but unfortunately this has happened twice for her already over the rehearsal period! But in this digital era, a man down doesn’t necessarily mean a man gone. She was still able to contribute to discussions and developments through email and she has been present at every rehearsal via live video connection. Although not physically in the room, she was able to participate in all aspects and continue to be an active member of the group. I wouldn’t call it easy, but it has been doable. The cast and crew have been incredibly adaptive and have such a positive attitude to overcoming challenges.

It is almost beyond belief to think that any production could be produced whilst adhering to such restrictions, but it just goes to show how resilient and driven we are as performers and creators. As a team we have been able to creatively navigate all the new rules and regulations, and work together (even when we’re apart!) to create something magical!

Truly A Distant Christmas miracle!