Year Out Drama (from a social distance)

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By Imogen "Timmy" Tong

It’s safe to say they have had their fair share of drama over the years, well, it’s right there in the name - Year Out Drama - but since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic this young theatre company, based in Stratford upon Avon, is experiencing a whole new meaning of the word.

However, instead of putting on their pyjamas and falling into a deep pit of duvets and Netflix, this talented and resilient group of 18-24 year olds are continuing theatre projects and finding inventive, technological, ways of maintaining the shroud of positivity that defines all aspects of this unique company.

‘You’re all washed and dressed’ delightfully remarked company director Deborah Moody at the beginning of Year Out Drama’s first video conference call this morning. Herself and assistant director Alastair McPhail rallied the troops at 10am to assign them their new creative writing project. They will be scripting and directing original monologues which will be performed by their fellow company members - likely, through a video streaming site.

Despite the new phenomenon of having to focus on 18 different moving thumbnails simultaneously, there were no heaved sighs and no ‘woe is me’s, just laughter, positivity and sharing.

Also, in true YOD tradition, today everyone shall go on a ‘walking warm up’, only this time it’ll be slightly different. Instead of an amorphous blob of bubbly young’uns striding alongside the Avon together, this shall take the form of 15 solo adventures. Starting at 2pm, each company member will put on their walking boots and stretch their legs - naturally maintaining a safe distance from the rest of humanity - and will keep connected to their peers, maybe by taking selfies of themselves en route including landscape or architectural features of note to share or through specific ‘describe where you are’ phone calls and other creative tasks. So if you hear a frightening bellow of ‘O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I’ from across a field in Warwickshire don’t be alarmed. It’s not the virus, it’s just Aidan.

I’m not sure, dear reader, if you’ve ever visited Stratford upon Avon but its main beacons are the world-famous Royal Shakespeare Company and the many many pubs. All of these establishments have, for the wellbeing of the community, had to close their doors. When theatres are being pressured to shut and countless artists are without work it’s more important than ever that we keep sharing ideas and encouraging each other. As I type, Year Out Drama are devising creative ways in which they can to lift the spirits of those in the community affected by the closures.

The inspirational attitude of Year Out Drama demonstrates that there is fun to be had in these surreal and challenging months. To everyone in the creative industries - do not lose heart. We may be distanced but we’re still together, we remain a community and we will come back fighting… and dancing… and singing... in dramatic makeup… with swords. It’s what Shakespeare would have wanted.

The social distancing 'solo adventures' and the selfies that were captured en route.

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