In light of the closure of theatres across the UK due to COVID-19, the Original Theatre Company’s productions of Alan Bennett’s The Habit Of Art and Ali Milles’ The Croft, both of which were touring the UK, will now each have an online launch performance: The Habit Of Art on 26 March at 8:15pm and The Croft on 27 March at 7:30pm. The performances are available to pre-order now. The videos will then be available to watch online until 2 June 2020.
The Original Theatre Company operates with no Arts Council support and relies solely on box office takings. With productions of The Habit Of Art and The Croft both out on national tours, the immediate cancellations were financially devastating. The company is determined, wherever possible, to meet financial commitments made to actors, stage managers and suppliers who are all dependent on the company to survive the coming months. They have therefore asked people to pay what they can afford but have a suggested minimum donation of £2.50.
The company explained that every penny they made through this online release would go to the people who helped to make these shows. People in exceptional financial difficulties can access the videos for free by emailing directly the Original Theatre Company. In addition to the show, there will also be access to a programme and backstage videos as part of the package.
Alastair Whatley, artistic director of The Original Theatre Company, said:
“Gaining access to these films is an extraordinary opportunity that has been permitted by the kind permissions of our writers Alan Bennett and Ali Milles, the acting companies, stage managers and creative teams to allow us to share these with you as a way of saying a heartfelt thanks to you, our audiences, for helping sustain the Original Theatre Company and all those who work with us.
“We hope people who have booked tickets and are now unable to attend, along with many thousands of others, can now access these videos and enjoy two superb pieces of theatre in the comfort of their homes. Some small respite in these trying times.
“We want to encourage people to make their own in-house theatre experience. We will be making play-appropriate drink suggestions, suggestions of what people might wear to watch the productions, a fun code of conduct which amounts to ‘do whatever you like, as you are in your own house’, and ask people to share photos of their home theatre experience.”
The Habit Of Art is directed by Philip Franks and stars Matthew Kelly as Fitz (W. H. Auden), David Yelland as Henry (Benjamin Britten), Veronica Roberts (Kay, the stage manager), Robert Mountford (Neil, the author), John Wark (Donald/Humphrey Carpenter), Jessica Dennis (George, the assistant stage manager) and Benjamin Chandler (Tim/Stuart).
The Croft is directed by Philip Franks and stars Gwen Taylor as Enid, Caroline Harker as Suzanne/Ruth, Drew Cain as David/Alec, Lucy Doyle as Laura/Eilene and Simon Roberts as Tom/Patrick.
The performances are available to watch at www.originaltheatreonline.com.