Hope Theatre funded to film original monologues as it struggles for survival
PUBLISHED: 09:33 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:33 18 September 2020
As the Islington pub theatre waits to hear if it qualifies for Government rescue funds it has secured a grant to create five new pieces of digital work
Despite teetering on the edge of extinction, Islington pub theatre The Hope is living up to its name by commissioning and filming five original monologues.
The Upper Street venue has been shuttered since March but has now secured funding from the City Bridge Trust for the digital project.
Five writers of different ages and backgrounds are now writing 15 minute comic monologues exploring a “slice of life at home”.
Kennedy Bloomer, who took over as artistic director in January, says the project will provide work for up to 30 artists at a time when the theatre’s future hangs in the balance.
“We are still in the danger zone in terms of survival,” she said.
“At the moment we are relying on public donations. We will hear by October 5 if we get money from the Cultural Recovery Fund to rebuild, but it’s touch and go for a lot of small theatres by the end of the year. It feels as though we are all passing around the same tenner.”
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That’s why she’s delighted to start assembling the crews for the monologues which will be filmed in October and will premiere week by week on their digital channels from November 25.
“We are over the moon to be creative again, and offering some employment opportunities to get the industry moving again in our small way after eight months of not being able to do work.
“The monologues are a bit like Talking Heads by Alan Bennett, a person in a domestic setting or what home means to them - whether it be a garden shed or under the bed. They should be entertaining, make people laugh, uplift the audience. Let’s see what these guys come up with, but we are staying away from social isolation and there will be nothing about coronovirus.”
Donations will be encouraged on a ‘pay what you want’ basis to ensure the survival of the theatre, which has staged cutting edge new work since it opened six years ago.
“Even if they give 1p, audiences get to watch something that will hopefully put a smile on their face,” says Bloomer, who has been unable to get inside the theatre because their base the Hope&Anchor pub is still closed.
During closure the intimate 50-seat venue has launched #HopeOnline – a series of digital workshops including a Q&A with Peaky Blinders co-producer Chris Ballantyne, and Be Heard - a monologue writing competition for 11-25 year olds supported by the Arsenal Foundation.
The set for Thomas Arensen’s The Fall, which was due to open just before lockdown, remains up, and she hopes to put it on if they reopen.
“It was madness, we had just finished programming for the whole of 2020 when we closed. We are trying to keep up morale and have promised every company that they will be our first shows coming back. It’s been tough, but we are excited to be doing work that isn’t on Zoom and want to make it as accessible as possible.”
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