To celebrate restrictions easing in the cultural sector, Aberdeen Arts Centre has announced the venue will stage an in-house professional theatre production this summer – its first since 2019.
“The last in-house production that we did was actually our panto Aladdin which was back in 2019,” said Arts Centre manager Stephanie Walls.
“Obviously, everything kept ticking for a few months in 2020, but we personally didn’t do any in-house productions.”
Stephanie is looking forward to staging Easy Money this summer, with tickets already on sale for the show taking place on July 16 and 17.
Stephanie says that Aberdeen Arts Centre will be one of the first indoor cultural centres to reopen in Granite City.
She said: “It’s nice to be able to get ahead of the game.
“The show is planned for July, so we don’t know what social distancing will look like then, but we decided to get the ball rolling anyway and we are assuming it’ll still be the case in terms of people needing to distance.
“We just wanted to start working towards something.”
Easy Money is fun and light-hearted
Stephanie, who will direct the in-house professional production, said she wanted to “get together a gang of local actors”.
“There are seven actors in the piece, ” said the Arts Centre manager.
“Easy Money is a play that I have been very fond of for a long time.”
The show tells the story of a cash-strapped family who have been playing the football pools – secretly because their grandma who lives with them disapproves.
Stephanie said: “The play is written by Arnold Ridley, who is most famous for playing Private Godfrey in sitcom Dad’s Army.
“Not a lot of people know that he was a playwright before he was an actor.”
Stephanie described the play as “gentle and funny” and is certain the Castlegate Arts production will make for a “lovely nostalgic night out” for local theatre-lovers.
She added: “Since we’ve had such a difficult year, I wanted to put something on that was a lovely piece of fluffy, light entertainment.
“The actors will be in full costume and there will be a lot of humour – we will also be doing sound effects live on stage.
“The show will be performed in a vintage radio studio style.
“Some actors will also be swapping hats and doing different voices as they’ll be playing more characters.
“You’d be hard-pressed to come out and have a bad time – let’s put it that way.”
Zoom read-throughs and in-person rehearsals
While the actors read through the play over Zoom to get into character, Stephanie said they’d start rehearsing in person just a week before the show.
She added: “We’re planning to keep the staging socially distanced.
“We’re a professional company so we could work within close range to each other because we would be in a bubble, but we just want to be on the safe side.”
Theatre-goers safety is crucial
With drastically reduced capacity, families and friend groups will be seated in separate pods two meters from other attendees.
Stephanie said: “We’ve been very lucky to be in a position to be able to adapt our auditorium into 30 pods so every household can be be two metres away from any other party.
“I hope this immediate distance is going to give people a lot of reassurance.
“We are constantly cleaning, we have a fogging machine – we fog between all performances – and we are also wiping down any touchable surfaces, and we have hand sanitiser everywhere too.
“We also have a one-way system in place.
“People can really book a ticket and feel safe and secure that they are not going to be in a crowded space – they can just get back to enjoying live entertainment and feel quite confident.”
While Easy Money will be the King Street venue’s first in-house production, the family show Artie’s Singing Kettle will be the first show performed in front of a socially-distanced audience at Aberdeen Arts Centre on May 29.