Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who played a part in creating our festival and making it a huge success. To MK Gallery and staff, to all the writers, to everyone who took to the stage and to all those behind the scenes - thank you
But of course, we couldn’t have done it without all the support from The Arts Council, our financial supporters, our audience members, and fellow industry cheerleaders.
Our four-day festival was a wonderful celebration of the arts and our industry coming together after two years of pain and uncertainty. To be in the same room as incredible women from theatre and film after so long, and to see some fantastic new plays by talented writers, hear from such wonderful National speakers and panellists, and share thought-provoking and exciting dialogue, was just so brilliant.
Our newly commissioned plays were extremely popular and well received. We are very excited to see what happens next with them. We hope to tour very soon with ‘Tapestry’ by Chloe Todd Fordham.
Covid may have continued its wicked way of isolating some cast members, but everyone pulled together, substitutes were found, and nothing was cancelled. This is the epitome of theatre, and the show went on!
We had some important discussions and conversations over the four-days, that covered the future of women in theatre, diversity and inclusion and what has happened since #MeToo?
Panellists April De Angelis (playwright), Polly Kemp (ERA 5050), Chloe Todd Fordham (playwright) and Rosemary Hill (Artistic Director) each gave an honest view of how difficult it is for women of a certain age to be cast in both theatre and TV in well written, well rounded leading character roles.
They also spoke about how difficult it is now to break through following the pandemic. With the back log of commissioned plays, the stop on touring, the loss of talent from the industry - it is a new territory, which has put up just another barrier.
At The Play’s The Thing Theatre Company, we shall keep putting on plays for all women - no matter their age, race, background. Women need to drive the narrative. We need to show younger female artists that there are aspirational and more diverse parts for when they are older. What inspirational parts with real dimension are out there for older actors currently? We will build on this with our planning and scheduling for our own productions and we’ll continue to take risks - which few seem to be doing at the moment.
Taking The Stage was not only a platform for helping to get ALL women from the industry heard and made visible to a wider audience, but it was an opportunity for young creatives to showcase their talent. They too have a voice, and it is their time to have the spotlight.
And they most certainly didn’t disappoint! What an inspirational performance by the young performing arts students at MK College with the support of Haste Theatre Company.
We also added screen to this second “Taking The Stage” with an African film night. Two thought provoking films from women writers and directors were screened both dealing with important issues. We were lucky enough also to be able to do a zoom Q & A with the Ugandan director Nisha Kalema and the Nigerian director, Blessing Effiom Egbe was able to join us in person!
There are so many interesting elements that came out of the festival that we will touch on in the coming weeks.
Thank you again!
Here are just a few comments so far from the festival:
“An absolutely amazing festival, you should be incredibly proud of yourself. Your work ethic is incredible. Thank you so much for the opportunity to not only perform, but also speak on a panel and deliver the closing speech(!)” – Carly Halse playwright
“Tapestry was wonderful and can’t wait to see what happens next with it.” – Natalie Chisholm
“Sorry I couldn’t get to more as what I saw was fantastic” - Shahnaz Hussain
“Thank you for facilitating a wonderful performance opportunity for MK College.” – Colin Ray
“It was a magnificent achievement, and I was delighted to play a small part in it. I look forward to working with you more in the future x” - Sarah Berger, Actress, Director and Producer
“Honestly tremendous, huge achievement from you and your team, thank you for pulling it all together in tough times. Loved it xx” – Linda Cartwright
“Thank you, Rosemary, what a wonderful project in a time where theatre is needed more than ever! I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work with amazing people. Thank you so much x” - Lisa Lovell, Playwright
“It was a fantastic event, the plays were incredible and the films amazing and hard hitting, I really enjoyed it all.” – Jane Russell, Photographer