the exterior of Putney Arts Theatre

Putney community theatre turns to Zoom to keep the show going on

A community theatre in Putney has experimented with new performance techniques that utilise live-streaming and podcasting services.

While keeping their actors socially distanced in their homes, Putney Arts Theatre have continued to provide live performances, dramatic readings and acting lessons over a variety of platforms including audio dramas and an entire show performed over Zoom.

A diverse network of family and friends of the theatre have been able to engage with the new online performances, with one person attending virtually from Hong Kong, 6000 miles away.

General Manager Veronika Wilson reported that the Community Theatre’s youth group, Group 64, had seamlessly moved their classes online without a single missed session.

Wilson said: “Both companies have really risen to the challenge, I’m very impressed by them.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see what we carry on digitally and what people are keen to do face-to-face and where there might be a meeting point between the two.”

Key to this success, according to Wilson, has been the social cohesion from group events and digital gatherings to training workshops that allow them to continue honing their talents in the absence of live performances.

With the potential for performances to begin again soon, Putney Arts Theatre hopes to reopen limited capacity performances soon while continuing to experiment and innovate.

One point that Wilson hopes is carried forward is the broader audience that has been afforded by recorded and livestreamed performances.

Like much of the industry, Putney Arts Theatre has struggled financially with the loss of live performances, having been on the eve of a new show when lockdown restrictions hit in March last year.

However, a fundraising campaign has managed to raise nearly £14,000 of a £20,000 goal.

While theatre sales saw a more than 90% decline in sales during the initial lockdown of 2020 streaming services for theatre have meanwhile reported great success, with services such as National Theatre at Home, capturing 15 million views from across the globe.

Other venues have also transitioned to online performances that have expanded the availability of previously exclusive types of art.

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