New HighTide artistic director Suba Das has unveiled a series of initiatives to support talent and the industry while theatres are closed, including the creation of monologues from writers including Morgan Lloyd Malcolm that will be shared digitally.
The company has also unveiled plans for a script reading service, which will be open to all UK playwrights.
All the initiatives are being presented under the banner of the Lighthouse Programme, which Das said he wanted to “offer artists, audiences and communities opportunities to engage and connect during isolation”.
“Having officially taken up the HighTide reins as new artistic director in October, I was gearing up to announce my first programme of commissions and projects in April. Trust a pandemic to get in the way. My whole incredible team of producers at HighTide have kicked into gear and this week we have transformed a planned programme into a series of initiatives directly responding to the current crisis, seeking to offer artists, audiences and communities opportunities to engage and connect during isolation,” he said.
He added: “We’re calling it the Lighthouse Programme, because theatre at its very best is a light in the dark. I’m honoured that HighTide alumni and new friends are giving up their time and talent for free as part of our sector’s collective, creative response. We won’t be defeated and we hope that this crisis ultimately means we encounter many more brilliant artists and participants in our home of the East of England and beyond”.
Love In the Time of Corona will see five new monologues “celebrating our incredible communities” created by Dawn King, Lloyd Malcolm, Ben Weatherill, Aisha Zia and Debris Stevenson.
All five writers are currently developing full-length plays for Das’ inaugural HighTide festivals in 2021.
Digital productions of the monologues “featuring some of the most exciting actors in the UK” will be made available over the next few weeks. The scripts will be available royalty free for actors and directors to make their own digital versions, which we will be showcased via the company’s social media channels.
Meanwhile, its script reading service aims to help “keep playwrights engaged and moving forwards with their practice”.
The service is open to all UK playwrights however priority will be given to writers who are based in the company’s home region of East of England or who are from socio-economically deprived backgrounds.
HighTide has also announced an ‘adopt an isolated playwright’ scheme, led by Vinay Patel, Nick Payne, Lloyd Malcolm, and Luke Barnes, who will each adopt a small group of emerging writers over the next 12 weeks. Details will be revealed next week.
The company also plans to tweet out a simple “standalone playwriting task” for 40 days from next week, and invite writers to share their responses online for feedback, discussion and celebration.
HighTide has said writers who have had work cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak will be placed on its priority list for programming in the next HighTide Festival, which will take place in 2021.