A theatre company’s latest live stream production will see it broadcast to potentially thousands of people worldwide – including the play’s writer 8,500 miles away.
Only four years ago Elysium Theatre Company, which has bases in Manchester and Durham, was putting on its first play in front of just dozens of people at the Assembly Rooms, Durham.
But its latest offering – Hello and Goodbye, by South Africa’s leading playwright Athol Fugard – will be filmed and streamed across the internet for the world to see, when it is performed at Northern School of Art, Hartlepool, at 7.30pm on Wednesday 23rd June.
It will star Manchester-based actor Hannah Ellis Ryan, and fellow Elysium co-founder Danny Solomon.
Hannah also runs Hope Mill Theatre in the city and found fame in Coronation Street in 2018, starring as ‘baddie’ Hannah Gilmore, the lover of Jim McDonald and impersonator of his late daughter Katie.
Director Jake Murray is the son of the late famous theatre director Braham Murray, who was one of the five founding Artistic Directors of Manchester’s Royal Exchange.
Jake, the third founding member of Elysium, said: “It is amazing to think that Athol Fugard could be watching one of his own plays online for the very first time, thousands of miles away from where it is being performed.
“I would love it if he does get to watch, it would mean the world to me and the company. He’s one of the world’s great playwrights and a living legend.
“We wanted to broadcast the show online, instead of embarking on a tour, so that if we were in lockdown, we could still do it as planned.
“Back in 2017 we were only able to play Durham and Manchester. Four years on we’re expanding and expanding and are truly delighted to be working in Hartlepool for the first time, broadcasting our show across the globe. Expect more exciting projects to come from us in future!”
Featuring just two characters – Johnnie and Hester Smits – Hello and Goodbye is set in the 1960s in Apartheid South Africa.
It is a funny, moving drama about families, siblings, love, regret and the debts we owe each other, emotional as well as financial.
Hello and Goodbye is the seventh production from Elysium, which was formed in 2017 by Danny, Jake and Hannah. It has performed four of these plays in Manchester – at HOME, Hope Mill, 53two and the Empty Space.
Australian Hannah has lived in the UK for eight years and is excited to perform for her family who will be able to watch the show from thousands of miles away thanks to cameras on the night.
She said: “I am so excited! Even my mum in Brisbane will be able to watch me for the first time in years.
“I can send my whole family a link for them to watch me from thousands of miles away, and that’s something that is so special, and something I have to be grateful for.”
She added: “We want to give the audience the feeling of an authentic theatre experience, even though they aren’t in the room.
“Acting for theatre and camera is very different, so it will be a challenge to act for both! In a theatre, it is all about reaching to the back of the room, whereas for something like Coronation Street, it can be about even the smallest of eyebrow movements.”
Danny, who has never acted for camera before, added: “The live aspect can be quite scary, and it will be different to just playing to a seated audience, but I am looking forward to getting a couple of run-throughs under my belt to be ready for the real thing.
“It is great that the play can be available to so many people at once, without them having to leave their home. It is a wonderful idea and I imagine we will be doing more live-streaming in future.”
Tickets for the show can be purchased for £5 (£3.50 concessions) here: https://www.queenshall.co.uk/events/hello-and-goodbye
Ticket holders will be given a link and a password and can then watch the play live on Wednesday 23rd June or ‘catch-up’ from June 25th until July 1st.
For more information on Elysium and their productions, find them on social media at @ElysiumTC or go to www.elysiumtc.co.uk