Emergency Appeal for Capital Theatres – #SaveOurTheatres

Across Scotland, venues are struggling to maintain a future and stave off the fears of going dark permanently. Tragically, the dawning reality is that the coming months will determine the fates of Scotland’s cultural hubs for generations to come.

Capital Theatres, the charity responsible for running Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, The Studio and heart of the trio The King’s have had little choice but to launch a crowdfunding campaign to secure £50,000 to ensure they are able to raise the curtain once more – when safe to do so. Doing so, not only to preserve the cities cultural integrity but to secure the high quality of accessible arts for Edinburgh’s vulnerable communities.

From online Tea & Jamming sessions, Dementia-friendly programmes and teaching aids for children during Lockdown, Capital Theatres has maintained its commitment to the communities despite halting live, in-person events. With 92% of the staff currently furloughed, with a small section able to work from home, the charity faces a dire situation.

Now, this is nothing new, and we here at Corr Blimey have asked your help in supporting the arts community and venues throughout lockdown, but for those unable to provide financial assistance they can help aid in another key way. Starting up a petition on Change.org they are calling on the Scottish Government’s support to recognise the severity of the situation:

‘We cannot let this happen. ​We need you to help us demonstrate to ​the government ​that Capital Theatres is worth equal investment ​to our theatre compatriots, to save our iconic venues before it’s too late’

Despite persistent appeals from Capital Theatres regarding the position they find themselves concerning the depleted funds they had to refurbish the King’s Theatre, support has so far been minimal from the government. Campaigning to receive funding: “at the same level as other publicly supported theatres,” this would go towards enabling the charity to play their role in Edinburgh’s year-round art scene, boosting the local and national economy, stating:

‘ from dementia friendly music concerts, ​to storytelling projects with Special Needs Schools and performance workshops with care experienced young adults. During June and July alone, we engaged with over 600 people each week through our digital activities.

Without significant external help, we will struggle to survive this prolonged period of closure with no ticket income. We need funding to continue delivering our work behind closed doors and to prepare the theatres to reopen when we are able to safely do so.

Faced with the harrowing decision of whether to remove their workers or risk the closure of The King’s theatre entirely, CEO Fiona Gibson issued a frank and blunt warning to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, that without the necessary funds and protection the decision would need to be called.

From auld Leithers to the fresh faces of Marchmont Rd and Pollock Halls, there’s no one in the city of Edinburgh, and rarely a person in Scotland who at one time or another hasn’t been impacted by the glittering spectacle of the Festival, the intimate creative-furnace of The Studio or the majesty of the old lady of Leven Street that is our beloved King’s Theatre. With support, the charity hopes to be able to bounce back and push forward and make a welcome comeback, but likely with reduced seating capacity needs ours, and the government’s help to do so.

Crowdfunder Page

Change.org Petition

Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer – White Cobra

Written by Peter Drake

Directed by Fraser Haines

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Bookclubs sound rather fun, don’t they? Or at least, the idea of them does. Gathering with a bunch of friends, acquaintances and potential strangers, to chat about something for a few hours and lock away the pangs of regular life (and we hear wine is often served at these events too). Bliss.

For Bev, Helen, Louise and Rachel these semi-regular meetings seem daunting as first as they get to grips with one another’s lifestyles and quirks, but gradually tethers form and relationships emerge as the women share experiences, stories and life’s scars. Oh, and sometimes they can be bothered to read the damn book.

A damp day, there’s a canny sense of relatability from the offset to draw in listeners. Fitting for Autumn, here are the only real wet days in Peter Drake’s writing where introducing the cast feels quite stilted and uniform, from hereafter though, there’s a far more natural rhythm as the performers chat, but for now these early days are no representation of the eloquent, touching nature which will emerge.

Gradually, the four leads increase in a natural back and forth which staves off the initial worries of chemistry. By the conclusion of Summer, they play into their own hands after forming a tight network of support and care. As one of the four grows ill, the impacts and trials women of the 21st-century face become evident, as they rally around and realise that, despite their initial complaints, sisterhood is real and potentially life-altering.

Individually, the key characters are separate enough to bounce between (and choose sneaky favourites), but three of the four receive a clearer arc than the last. Nothing down to performance, it just seems that in the drive to discuss online dating, ageing and children, Drake’s writing neglects small areas in favour of tying together threads – a reasonable choice.

Brimming with vim & vigour, Vicky Kelly’s Helen is an immediate presence and balances well against Jude Wilton’s more down-to-earth pessimism. Kelly’s suffering at the constant lampooning at her career in the arts makes for a welcome break (if on the nose) through humour. The pair dip in and out of the narrative, usually lamenting online dating and follies of men, but Louise Drage and Bernadette Wood as Bev and Louise have a prominent role throughout, the pair providing steadfast reliability across the production.

In closing, Summer has the echoes of what could be a potential stage adaptation, to stellar praise. The dynamic shift from every day to lyrical language in discussion with dementia, vision loss and reflective nature is a touching ending which, while sounding a tad less cheerful, maintains a respectful and familial nature. It is here where Drake’s writing accelerates in quality and demonstrates their talent with pathos.

Based in Northampton, White Cobra may claim to be a semi-professional theatre company, but following their initial venture into the audio play genre – it’s safe to say their future stands firmly with experienced production companies.

As with the seasons themselves, Drake’s Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer ebbs and flows with good days and bad, but as a collective piece maintains steady growth, increasing in engagement as the narrative moves through the year. Lacing a pleasant easy listening with nuggets of life’s difficulties and annoyances makes Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer a genuinely human portrayal of ageing and friendship, peppered with a few frostbitten story threads which emerge into Spring as poetic blossoms, performed with exceptional care and dedication from Wood, Kelly, Drage & Wilton

Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer is available to listen here

Lucky 8 – Online@TheSpace

Written by Stephanie Silver

Directed by America Lovsey

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sometimes it’s just not your day, right? We all have days where every little aspect appears to go wrong – worse though, what about a whole life born under the wrong star, a whole life where luck seems to pass you by in favour of others.

Without cluttering the narrative, Stephanie Silver’s Lucky 8 takes the simple premise of telling the tale of a work-place week, but from two perspectives. Despite moments of interaction, the prevailing make-up for the show is two monologues – first from Marcy, a superstitious queer woman who struggles in her day to day life. From awkward encounters at work, bad relationships and caring for her adoring mother, who suffers from MS, Marcy very much considers herself unlucky.

After colliding (quite literally) into a new colleague she has a thing for, a quick succession of feelings overflow as Silver’s language paces itself with emotional intensity. What follows is an engaging series of tender moments, with Silver nabbing the laughs throughout Lucky 8 through her scattered, nervous performance as Marcy, balancing out the more serene, controlled stature of her co-star Velenzia Spearpoint.

Spearpoint takes a more intense, mature approach to their character’s self-esteem and life with far better-concealed anxiety. A wife and mother pushed to breaking point following her husband’s affair, Spearpoint’s unnamed character finds herself seeking answers from a magic eight ball – a pretty low point for any of us. There’s no skirting or airs and graces to the production, which happily embraces the characters’ choices and nature. It is an honest depiction of fluid sexuality as Marcy’s crush struggles, not with her feelings for another woman, but rather with the realisation that her marriage is no longer one of love but for convenience.

This secondary story, told from Spearpoint’s perspective ties together the loose ends, but eats up more time in explanation and ultimately sacrifices closure, or at least a sense of where the narrative will continue rather than simply ending. Where an open-ending offers promise, Lucky 8 leaves the fates of the two up in the stars, offering the audience less to takeaway.

The pair keep their roles grounded, with motions of ‘quirkiness’ feeling natural for the role of Marcy, which speaks volumes to America Lovsey’s direction. Things are kept clean, without overstepping the mark or attempting to shoehorn emotion. Silver’s writing is genuine, blunt and pushes for humour in droves without feeling forced. Lucky 8 flows naturally, and with tightening in places, there’s heaps of potential for a fully-staged performance.

Review published for The Wee Review