Rehearsing their take on Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads on Zoom, Aberdeen University’s Centre Stage Theatre Company is now ready to premiere a series of monologues tacking the themes of loneliness and isolation online.
The show’s director and the society president Connor McCausland said the theatre company decided to focus on two monologues, which he thought were the most relevant during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “One of the monologues – A Chip in the Sugar – focuses on a man called Graham (played by Ben Saber) who is struggling with his mental health.
“He has issues which he’s trying to keep hidden.
“When his life begins to change, he starts to panic and struggle and he finds himself alone whenever he needs some form of contact – what he needs is a stable environment.
“His paranoia and panic just keep growing and growing.
“We looked at this monologue in particular to explore what isolation does to you – when you’re stuck at home in your room with your mental health deteriorating and you’re not able to do much about it.
“I think that during this pandemic and lockdown a lot of people can relate to this in some way.”
The second monologue – Her Big Chance – focuses on an up-and-coming actress who is offered what she believes to be her breakout role in a new film. The show sees the main character Lesley delve into her not-so-pleasant experience.
Lesley was portrayed by Julie Walters in the original 1988 broadcast and Jodie Comer in the 2020 remake. Aberdeen’s Emily Scott plays the character in the Aberdeen University theatre group’s remake.
Connor described filming the show during the ongoing pandemic as an “interesting endeavour”.
He said: “A lot of the show was rehearsed over Zoom, but towards the end of the production, we were able to meet outdoors a few times.”
“Sometimes, our actors’ flatmates were able to help us out, but a lot of the time, the actors themselves had to set up the camera and the tripod.”
“However, it kind of worked with the show we’re doing because it’s an adaptation of Alan Bennett’s classic monologues.
“It’s a series that embraces and looks into isolation, and the characters are talking directly to the audience – to the camera, so this worked in our favour.”
The theatre group also quarantined filming equipment for two days to make sure the production adhered to Covid-19 rules and everyone was safe.
Connor said: “The cast and crew also wore masks and gloves whenever they were using the equipment – the actors only removed masks once the filming has begun.
“We’re so used to doing stuff live on stage and this was completely new for us.”
To avoid technical glitches on the day, the theatre society decided to pre-record their performances rather than trying to live-stream them. Centre Stage Theatre Company’s Talking Heads adaptation will premiere tonight (April 30) at 7.30pm on the theatre group’s YouTube channel here.
The show will be available to watch after its premiere tonight on the group’s YouTube channel.
While the show is free to watch, Centre Stage Theatre Company would like to encourage viewers to donate to their Edinburgh Fringe fund.
Connor and other Aberdeen University actors and directors are aiming to raise £1,000 to be able to perform their new show You’re My Jury, which was written by the group members, at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Connor said: “This show is free to watch, but usually, our shows would be ticketed.
“The main point of the GoFundMe is to help us with the cost of our upcoming Fringe production.
“We were supposed to go to the Fringe last year, but that never happened. However, it looks like we’ll be going this August. We have our space confirmed.
“It can be quite difficult for amateur student groups to get noticed at the Fringe, so whatever we raise will go towards leaflets, marketing and props.”