As you may be aware, sadly we had to cancel our 2020 One Act Drama Festival at short notice due to COVID-19 back in March this year. We were so disappointed to do it, being the first festival we’ve ever had to cancel since the competition started back in 1979.
As a committee we are very keen to run a festival in 2021, but are very aware that COVID may well still be an issue and we take the health and wellbeing of our team, groups and audience very seriously.
We know that the last 7 months have been really tough for amateur drama groups, with no end in sight. This is partly the reason that we are especially keen for next years’ festival to take place, to help give groups something to aim for, and help prove that community theatre is still alive here on the South Coast.
While we would like to run our normal festival in March at the Hanger Farm Arts Centre, we know that this may not be possible.
As a committee, we have had some thoughts about how we could alter the format of the festival to enable it to continue: perhaps to limit cast and crew sizes, or take the festival online.
We are sure that we want to keep the fundamentals of the festival the same. It will be for one act plays, and to promote and encourage local drama. We would like it to still be a preliminary round of the All England Theatre Festival, which at the time of this email is still going ahead in 2021, though delayed until later in the year to enable more first round festivals to happen. Sadly the chances of the 5 Counties Youth Festival happening next year are slim.
One option we have considered is to stage an online festival, recording all the productions unedited with a single camera under festival conditions. This could be done either at Hanger Farm or in the groups’ home venue. We could then release the recordings online during the festival week, followed by a live adjudication from qualified drama adjudicator and culminating with an online awards show at the end of the week. This could either be through social media - although we are aware this may cause some issues regarding performance rights for published works - or via another streaming service.
Another option is to delay our 2021 festival until later in the year in the hope that the majority of restrictions will have been lifted. However, if we delay later than June we wouldn’t be able to be part of the national AETF competition. There is, of course, no guarantee that ‘normality’ will have been restored by then.
We want to to find out your thoughts and opinions on our different options, and to ascertain whether, if you are a member of a drama group, you might be considering joining us next year? A drama festival can’t happen without all the great groups that take part!
Whether you are a member of a drama group, audience member or just an interested party we would appreciate your feedback on our proposed options, which are:
We realise it's not so easy to canvas opinions, and that you can't predict the future or what people will actually feel ready to do at any particular time. However it would be helpful if you could let us know your views about each of these options in the next couple of weeks to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd like to get your input before 9th November to consider at our next committee meeting.
Thank you for your time today, and thank you in advance for your responses. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Chair, Totton Festival of Drama.