The show will go on! Seaside theatre looks forward to lockdown easing

Sheringham Little Theatre theatre director Debbie Thompson. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY.

Sheringham Little Theatre theatre director Debbie Thompson. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY. - Credit: Archant

Sheringham Little Theatre has plenty planned for spring and summer as the world emerges from lockdown. Director DEBBIE THOMPSON explains what is waiting in the wings.

The Little Theatre has been a bit like Sleeping Beauty over winter – but handsome Prince Vaccine has given us a peck on the cheek and we are beginning to wake from our long enforced nap, ready to spring back into action.

Plans are afoot to reopen to doors to the Hub café on May 17, and there are live and online productions planned for June and August.

But before we explain more about that, there are March matters to highlight, thanks to our exciting Rewriting Rural Racism project.

From March 22-31 you can watch a poignant, hard-hitting but also funny one man show written and performed by young North Norfolk actor Ashton Owen, partly based on his own, often painful, experiences of growing up as a mixed race student in a rural county.


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Outskirts will highlight the taunts, hurtful questions, and offensive actions and words endured by the 25-year-old who has been involved with previous Little Theatre youth productions.

Ashton Owen rehearsing for his Outskirts show, which is part of Sheringham Little Theatre's Rewriting Rural Racism project. 

Ashton Owen rehearsing for his Outskirts show, which is part of Sheringham Little Theatre's Rewriting Rural Racism project. - Credit: Mark Benfield / SLT

He will play more than a dozen different characters including family, friends and fellow students as he shows the anger and anxiety he suffered – and aims to get people thinking about the impact of what they say and do in the presence of someone from a different race.

Outskirts is being recorded and can be watched via a £5 downloadable link, available via the theatre website www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com.

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The premiere will also be followed by an online discussion between Ashton, the production team and the audience. And it is available with signing and captions for those with hearing difficulties, in line with the Rewriting Rural Racism’s wider aim of making our events more inclusive.

The projects series of short films, We Are One, will also be shown from April 10-31.

They highlight the importance of migration to the county and draw on local stories, talent and history, and explore people’s perceptions of “outsiders”.

Omer and Buket Dinc being filmed on Cromer Pier for We Are One. 

Omer and Buket Dinc being filmed on Cromer Pier for We Are One. - Credit: SLT

Again the £5 tickets are available from the theatre website, with a chance to join a post premiere discussion.

On May 17, providing the lockdown easing roadmap is still on track, will the Theatre reopen our doors and welcome people in to the Hub coffee bar.

There will still be anti-Covid precautions in place but we expect to be able to host groups of six again, so people can meet up with friends - and we cannot wait to hear the chatter of people and chink of crockery again!

And it will also be a relief to start bringing some cash into the theatre’s income-starved coffers.

There are two summer dramas currently being hatched – and they will literally take theatre into the streets of Sheringham.

Ghosted is a new play penned by North Norfolk playwright James McDermott, which will come to town from June 4-6.

Richard Batson / SLT

James McDermott, left, and Marcus Romer discuss Ghosted locations at Sheringham. - Credit: Richard Batson / SLT

It follows a group of teenagers after one of their friends disappears – and will see the action unfold on the seafront, with audiences wearing headsets to hear the actors, as well as extra recorded material which adds to the plot.

It is directed by experienced film-maker and West End stage director Marcus Romer, who has done similar productions elsewhere.

We had an amazing response to a “casting call” with more than 1000 applicants. We were keen to ensure the successful candidates had genuine Norfolk accents, and experience of growing up in a coastal town.

Some of the names are Little Theatre favourites, but there are some new faces too.

The cast is: Ashton Owen as Adam, Charlie Randall (Ash), Meg Artherton (Chloe), Meg Sharman (Fish), Oliver Westlake (Jake), Sam Thompson (Jet) and Amy English (Flo).

Rehearsals are in May for the show which will also go to Great Yarmouth seafront in a joint venture with St George’s Theatre partly funded by the government’s cultural recovery fund, which is helping the venues not only survive, but seek to expand programming and diversity.

Sheringham Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson.

Sheringham Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson. - Credit: Richard Batson/ SLT

Our Town, running from August 7-14 is a community production which also takes drama into the heart of the town – at a series of key locations.

The play, by American Thornton Wilder, was penned in 1938 and is a quirky look at local characters a bit like Under Milk Wood, but we are bringing it up to date and giving it a North Norfolk flavour.

And we will be looking, not only for cast members, but “ambassadors” to help navigate the audience between the performance locations.

Plans are being kept flexible to deal with whatever Covid restrictions may be in place at the time.

So, as you can see, while the theatre may have been a Sleeping Beauty, there has been lots of work going on behind the scenes, ready for our return.

It has been a long winter, and long year, and we appreciate the grant funding which has helped us survive and plan for the future.

We have also been delighted to receive donations towards our lockdown-hit funds, but are particularly heartened to get messages from our audiences and supporters saying “we cannot wait until you open again!” Nor can we!

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