New series of online ‘Covid-19 Monologues’ from Elysium Theatre Company
Award-winning theatre company releases new online productions dealing with Covid-19 and its aftermath
An award-winning Northern theatre company has released a series of online ‘Covid-19 Monologues’ written by and starring talent from across the country.
Elysium Theatre Company, which has bases in Durham and Manchester, was forced to cancel all its planned live performances when lockdown hit in 2019, leaving the company at a crossroads.
Its Artistic Director and founder, Jake Murray, decided to adapt the company to its new surroundings, and commissioned a host of writers to create one-person pieces which were performed, filmed and directed using social distancing.
Its two series of Monologues – totalling eleven individual pieces – were a roaring success, reaching tens of thousands of people online and receiving awards and accolades in the process.
Elysium’s dedication to this championing of new writing earned Elysium the prestigious Olwen Wymark Award from the Writers Guild of Great Britain in 2021, while one of its Monologues – ‘The Moth’, was selected for 24 international film festivals.
Another three Monologues, grouped together into ‘The Covid-19 Trilogy’, won Best Monologue in the Thornhill Theatre Space Online Festival 2021.
Because of their success, Jake has decided to embark on a third volume of Monologues, written by and starring talent from mainly the North East and Manchester (see info below), and is set to take two live productions on tour this autumn.
All of Elysium’s online productions, including the latest six, which have just been released, are available here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs7xL1Azzgnu0VkU1odZ5Qw
Jake said: “Covid-19 forced us online, and it goes to show that necessity really is the mother of invention.
“We haven’t looked back since our first foray into online work. It is a whole new medium for us that we want to continue moving forward – it’s not film and it’s not theatre, but somewhere in between.
“While most of our previous Monologues focused on the pandemic itself and living within it, with these latest pieces we are able to both look back on the worst of the pandemic, and begin to look forward.
“We are so excited to be bringing another six fantastic plays to the people, created by a set of supremely-talented writers, from a diverse range of background, and performed by some incredible actors.
“This new medium has opened up a whole new landscape for us and enabled us to move from performing classics and modern plays to getting involved with creating original work.
“The future looks very exciting for Elysium!”
The Monologues Vol 3 are:
ASK ME ANYTHING by Chris Neville-Smith (North East), directed by Dan Bradford, performed by Heather Carroll (North East): Lucy, a political activist, takes questions in the aftermath of a political sting that went tragically wrong.
BLUE BIN DAY by Elijah Young (North East), directed by Jake Murray, performed by Chris Connell (North East): Craig, a bin man from Heaton in the North East, becomes obsessed by the cat killer of the Chillingham Road, and begins to suspect that the culprit may be living under his roof.
DANDELION by Philip Meeks (North East), directed by Jake Murray, performed by Jacqueline Phillips (North East): Beatrice, a woman driven to murder by her abusive husband, tells us what led here there from her cell, including a love affair with a younger woman next door.
CYBERSPACE DREAMS by Rayna Campbell (Manchester), directed by Jake Murray, performed by Orline Riley (Manchester): Maggie, a woman living on her own during Covid lockdown, goes down the rabbit hole of online influencers in a bid to change her life, with hilarious and painful results.
SKIN DEEP by Hamza Adam Rafique (Manchester), directed by Jake Murray, performed by Shaban Dar (Manchester): Adil, a British student from a Pakistani Muslim background, talks to his cousin about a love affair with a fellow student which ended in pain.
PASS OVER ME by Rachel Creeger (London), directed by Jake Murray, performed by Rachel Gaffin (London): Miri, a Jewish mother from North London, takes us through the Seder meal as she prepares for her second Passover during Lockdown.
Following the release of the Monologues, Elysium will embark on a tour of ‘A Doll’s House’, by Henrik Ibsen, which will visit TEN Northern theatres later in September and October.
The company will then tour another NINE venues in November with ‘Reiver – Tales from the Borders’ – an original production adapted from one of Elysium’s original Covid Monologues, by North East playwright Steve Byron. This will be Elysium’s first newly-written stage play.
Jake, who is directing both plays and most of the Monologues, believes this volume of output proves that, if anything, the pandemic has made Elysium stronger than ever.
He added: “A lot of theatre companies have closed during Covid but the pandemic hasn’t killed us, we have emerged stronger than ever.
“We have come out of the starting blocks at full speed, with two live tours and an online series of productions.
“When we went into the pandemic we were taking shows to maybe three or four venues, and now we are touring two shows to up to ten venues at a time!
“If anything, by producing online and live content we can reach even more people than ever before – we hope to continue to bring the best of live theatre to the North of England, while pushing boundaries with our online content too.
“Now we want to grow even more and reach more people across the North and beyond with even bigger tours and more streamed shows.
“We are so excited to be embarking on these live tours, and seeing audiences’ responses to both these and our latest set of Monologues.”
Elysium was formed in Durham in 2017, by Durham-based Jake and Manchester-based actors Hannah Ellis Ryan and Danny Solomon.
It has gone from strength to strength, and is currently the only theatre company touring a mixture of premieres, classics and new writing across the North of England.
Elysium has produced seven stage and now 17 online plays, including one live streamed production, Hello And Goodbye.
The company’s growth has enabled it to reach out further into the community, appointing an Engagement Officer to reach out to schools, colleges, universities, special needs groups, refugee groups and other organisations to help bring theatre to young people and communities that might not otherwise have access to it.
Elysium will also be offering live interactive workshops, Q&As and online resources for both of its upcoming tours. For further information contact Amy Mitchell at email@example.com
For more information on Elysium, its work and history, see www.elysiumtc.co.uk.
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