Between Stages: Belgrade Theatre launches online programme during lockdown
Following the recent announcement of its Autumn 2020 Season, the Belgrade Theatre has now launched an online programme of activity to inspire and entertain its audiences during the lockdown period.
Called Between Stages, the Belgrade’s new online content hub will feature a range of shows to watch online as well as craft activities and educational projects to try at home, behind the scenes podcasts, blogs and videos, and even a virtual exhibition.
Highlights so far include the critically acclaimed Wise Children, which is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer as part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine programme. Co-produced by the Belgrade Theatre with Wise Children, the Old Vic, Oxford Playhouse and York Theatre Royal, this “big, bawdy tangle of theatrical joy and heartache” sees director Emma Rice bring her exuberantly impish vision to Angela Carter’s last great novel. Following its opening in London, the show was staged at the Belgrade in Spring 2019 – the only venue to see Rice herself step into the role of Nora Chance.
Emma Rice said, “I delight in the fact that we now get to share this glorious story with so many others, and hope that the fun, truth, love and generosity poured into it will find its way into sitting rooms across the country. Today, more than ever, we need the joy, resilience, hope and love of life which runs through the veins of Wise Children. As Nora and Dora Chance, the show’s central characters, tell us: ‘What a joy it is to dance and sing!'”
From Wednesday 22 April, audiences will also be able to enjoy the recent adaptation of YA novel Crongton Knights, which premiered in Coventry in February this year before embarking on a UK tour, sadly cut short by the lockdown. Co-produced by the Belgrade Theatre with Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre and York Theatre Royal, the show was co-directed by the Belgrade’s 2021 Co-Artistic Director Corey Campbell (Club 2B, Freeman, Noughts and Crosses).
Using beatboxing, physical theatre and original songs, it tells the story of the Magnificent Six, a group of teenagers living on an inner-city estate who band together to help a friend in need. Co-directors Corey Campbell and Esther Richardson and writers Alex Wheatle and Emteaz Hussain will deliver a special “opening night” introduction from 6.45pm. The show will then be available to watch for free until Saturday 9 May.
Other shows available to watch online include Original Theatre Company’s productions of The Habit of Art and The Croft, the latter originally scheduled to be performed at the Belgrade this month, as well as family-friendly Shakespeare retellings from the zany and always hilarious Oddsocks, whose production of The Comedy of Errors was previously due to take place at the Belgrade in June. Currently available productions include Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing, with new shows being added every Friday.
For little ones, Honalee Media are streaming a number of their popular preschool shows for free on YouTube, including Marty MacDonald’s Farm, while Belgrade panto stars Iain Lauchlan and Craig Hollingsworth are presenting an original online children’s series called Cheeky Chimps TV. B’Opera are continuing to share live singing sessions and regular song videos via Facebook, and every Tuesday at 2.30pm, the Belgrade will be sharing new Storytime videos featuring a mix of Belgrade staff and guest storytellers.
Those interested in new creative projects emerging from the city can check out Shoot Festival’s first online scratch night, Shut Down But Scratching. Streamed live on Wednesday 15 April, the event showcased a range of emerging artists, musicians, theatre-makers, poets and storytellers from across Coventry and Warwickshire. If you missed out on the livestream, you can still catch up with the action via YouTube. BSL interpreted and audio described versions of the film will also be available from Friday 17 April.
In partnership with The Roma Project and Coventry University’s Centre for Dance Research, the Belgrade is offering an online preview of its postponed Generations exhibition, featuring photography by Antony Weir and Georgia Bond that shines a spotlight on Coventry’s Gypsy Roma Traveller community.
Those looking for more hands-on activities should keep an eye out for Monday Makes, weekly craft tutorials curated in partnership with the Belgrade’s resident Craft On – Needlecraft for Wellbeing group, as well as Tuesday night “Pub Quizzes” on Facebook, designed to test your theatre knowledge. On Wednesdays, there’ll also be more in-depth creative projects to explore as part of the Belgrade’s Weducation programme, offering exciting behind-the-scenes insights into the workings of a theatre, including a series of Careers Behind the Curtain videos.
Elsewhere, you’ll have the chance to get to know the Belgrade’s 2021 Co-Artistic Directors a little better through a series of Locked In podcasts, blogs and videos. The Belgrade Theatre’s podcasts are available to stream via PodBean and iTunes, as well as via the Belgrade website. Musical theatre fans can also look out for Sunday Showtunes, a series of Spotify playlists focusing on a different theme each week.