Turning a living play into a listening experience

“Start a blog,” Paul says, “it will be fun,” he adds, before finishing with “don’t worry it won’t take long”.

Whenever Paul ‘suggests’ you give something a go, there is always a point when you think to yourself, ‘why did I agree to this?’. Then you wander around for a bit, scratching your head and furrowing the B. Trouble is, Paul is usually right, and you end up getting more out of the experience than you put into it. Let’s hope so.

So, I started a Fringe Review Blog, full of plans, ideas and enthusiasms. Then life happened, and I stopped.

Now, I hear the empty stalls faint cry, “Tell us what have you’ve been up to, Joe?”, “Well Terry, I am glad you asked me that…”(stolen from The Commitments).

This year our little company were due to perform Waiting For Hamlet to packed houses and critical acclaim, all over this fair land. Like Jerry and his pals, our best-laid plans lay in tatters. Bookings cancelled, venues closed and rehearsal schedules somewhat scuppered. We appeared crushed before we had even started.

We gathered together online, crying, gnashing the teeth and bewailing our lot. David Visick, our writer and driving force, started discussing the parallels between his story, Old King Hamlet and Yorick, trapped in Limbo. The Old King wants to go out, to seek revenge and regain his crown. Meanwhile, Yorick warns the King of the danger going out brings. Using pictures, small words and charades, he explained the relevance of his tale to current events.

Designing a horse by committee

To cut a long story short, we decided to try and capture the relevance to current events and make an audio version of the play. We enlisted the help of a very clever man, Trevor Datson, who guided the team through the process of making something that was of good enough quality that people would want to listen to it. Cue an interesting sequence of online rehearsals, experiments with phones, Zoom and actors hunched under duvets recording lines. Trevor stitched it all together, wrote some music, voiced some credits and sent it back.

Battling with seagulls
Tim and a tribble

Having listened to it, I cannot believe that Tim Marriott (King) and Nicholas Collett (Yorick) didn’t record this in the same room. Whatever magic Trevor undertook to sync the voices tracks, time the gags and add an atmosphere is beyond me, but he did it brilliantly. But all of that effort means we have a product, and one the guys are justifiably proud of.

Many artists, comics and performers have created online productions. The current pandemic has seen an outpouring of online creativity, it appears that necessity is the mother f of invention. Creatives gonna create!

Although May’s Brighton Fringe has cancelled, the organisers are supporting online productions on their website. Our audio version of Waiting For Hamlet will feature in that, with its official launch on the first of May.

There is no way the audio version can match the atmosphere of a live performance, but we believe this is a quality piece of work, and we are very proud of it. Hope you all enjoy it too.