Actors including Julie Hesmondhalgh and Lisa Hammond are to read plays to isolated people over the phone, as part of a raft of new initiatives from theatre company Paines Plough.
The company has launched Come to Where I Am, a spin-off of its app-based audio offering Come to Where I’m From, which will see 30 new plays commissioned in partnership with theatres across the UK.
The writers of each play will write about the places they call home and their relationship to these places.
They will be recorded, and released digitally, before being performed in partnering theatres when venues reopen. Theatres taking part include Derby Theatre, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Sheffield Theatres.
For people who cannot access the plays online, Paines Plough will offer live readings of the plays over the phone.
Alongside Hesmondhalgh and Hammond, the service will be provided by actors including David Bradley and Sally Dynevor.
Paines Plough will work with the partner theatres to identify potential user groups within their communities.
Paines Plough has also announced The Place I Call Home, a programme aimed at connecting international writers to create new work together, “in isolation, across borders”.
Two writers will be paired up to co-author a new bilingual play about home that will be shared across digital platforms.
The plays will be performed by British and international actors, including British drama school students who have had projects postponed.
Paines Plough has also announced the appointment of its 2020/2021 trainee director, its Big Room Playwright Fellowship and a new bursary for an emerging playwright.
Kaleya Baxe will be the 2020/1 trainee director, while the Big Room Playwright Fellow will be Vickie Donoghue.
The new bursary goes to Ric Renton, who will use the money to write a play about his time inside prisons in the North-East and an “intimate friendship” he struck up with a prison guard over two years, through his cell door.
Artistic directors Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner said: “We recognise that these are challenging times and we hope that this new programme which celebrates homes and places will enable audiences to be momentarily transported somewhere else – whether that be spending 10 minutes in Derby or half an hour in Milan.
“Collaborating with our excellent national and international partners, we are pleased to be providing employment for artists to still create thrilling new theatre for audiences.”