It’s a strange phenomenon. Theatres are dark, just a few lights here and there, brave venues operating at 30% capacity. Concert halls have musicians bravely playing to empty seats. Stars of the musical theatre are driving vans. Ballet dancers are encouraged to become cyber experts, an encouragement now denied. And yet, in the midst, creativity blossoms.
This is not paid creativity, mind you. Or, at least, not paid properly. But creative people will create, and there seems to be plenty to say. My own experience of this ranges from reading and listening to poets such as Steve Pottinger (look him up on YouTube, highly recommended) to taking part in running and writing for 3 online poetry events and an ongoing stream of ‘Zoom theatre’ – our 11th show approaches and there’s more in the pipeline.
Last week, Mole Valley Poets held their third public event of the year – 2020 Vision – poems from an unusual year – in which 10 poets responded to the virus, to lockdown, to the climate emergency and more, in a variety of styles ranging from haiku to villanelle via freer verse. A moving and beautiful evening, giving plenty to think about.
Two days later Damn Cheek pushed the boundaries of Zoom theatre a little further, bringing a mix of theatre and TV techniques to a production of my play Little Brother, which I had adapted for the purpose.
Brilliantly pulled together in only a couple of days, and fully appreciated by an audience of over 100, the evening showed how the form is developing and our audience is continuing to grow.
I finished the week with a ‘poetry walk’ – 5 poets rambling and chatting on Holmwood Common. The serious writing is never that much in evidence on these walks but the results emerge afterwards – I’ve already seen a sonnet and several haiku from a couple of the participants, and I’ve yet to find time to read my notes.
So this morning I’m starting the week on a positive note, celebrating creativity, and the amazing people I have the privilege of working with – actors and directors, poets and playwrights, musicians and novelists. And not forgetting those who can take on new skills – like the chair of our advisory board who found an undiscovered talent as a camera operator. Keep going, all of you!
And for those who would like to see Damn Cheek’s next Zoom production, it’s on 11 November and features short responses to Zoom by 8 playwrights, of which I’m one. A challenge set by Darren Cheek that promises a varied and enjoyable evening. Entitled The Space Within, all you need to do is click here to book your free seat!
This blog post originally appeared on Tony’s website.