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  • Writer's pictureAMA Theatre Co.

Happy New Year 2022

Firstly, dear readers, we at AMA Theatre Co. would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year 2022 ! and are very confident that this year will be a most prosperous one to come. What a year 2021 has been for us and how we've managed. In the first instance you might remember that not long ago, we all have been in lockdown where we all tried our best to cope and adjust with the threat of Covid, and as result, here at AMA Theatre Co. we adapted to online performances. I remember vividly, organising Aladdin pantomime last Christmas from our mini theatre studio, here in our lounge - see the article The Stage wrote about us here; We, performed the pantomime, for schools privately, then for many other groups, privately, and then on Boxing Day 2021 for public audiences, and what a success that was. Then the easing of lockdown brought hope and the spirit of community showing once again that if we stand together, we can overcome any obstacle, no matter how hard and dreary it might look. We then embarked on a new project called The Buccaneers - as the subject was very dear to us - and at the end of the day who wouldn't like a pirate? And so, the production of The Buccaneers was formed. The characters, with the exception of one, were based on real life pirates, such as Anne Bonny, John Rackham and Mary Read, but we thought to add on an extra character, and thus the birth of Angus McTavish or Angus Jock McTavish as we like to call him, was born. Whilst the other characters were pretty much scketched from the beginning, we were looking to give the fourth character as many facets as the others lacked. Whilst Anne, was brave, courageous, strong leader material, with Jack (John Rackham, aka Jack Calico) by her side, a cunning, lilly livered, flamboyant character and Mary, who preferred to remain in obscurity as a disguise, friendly, loyal and down to earth, Jock took on the mantra of the cuddly giant, fearsome, funny, endearing and mischievous.

We began by putting together a filmed version of the show, with myself and my partner playing the other parts. It was a great challenge to begin with, as we only had limited funds to start this project, all of which were self-funded from our own purse. And whilst we managed to hire a theatre venue to film the long shots, we relied mostly on the magic of "editing". It soon became apparant that in order to keep to the budget, we must carry on filming in green screen individually, but trying to give the impression of much character interaction. Thus by the end of March, we were ready with the filmed version of this production, and schedulled it to premiere online at the end of May 2021 - you can read here the feedback we received; By now, lockdown was eased, and businesses were returning to a sort of normality, with very little audiences, but none the less, live audiences. And so too, we were delighted to return to live performing, I guess the priniple of pre-recorded / live-online was becoming a bit tiresome even for us. In May, we went live with a mini version of The Buccaneers, i.e. a condensed performance with only myself and my partner, playing just the two characters, Anne and Jack, at the festival weekend in Brentwood. And what a fantastic reception that was. Not only we were absolutely delighted to meet and greet people in real life once again, but the mini version was a great success bringing in audiences that spanned through the field, of course within 1m distance rule and with the majority wearing masks.

The reception of our mini version of the production, with the sword fight workshops, worked a treat, and soon we were asked by many adults, if we will bring this production to any theatres. This is how we embarked on re-writing the show, for the stage, with real effects, real fights, etc. We begun by looking and comparing the filmed version of the production, and how we could keep the story line to reflect the filmed version, but this time adapted for the stage. We also began to feel the characters were becoming more and more personalised, as we have been in their shoes, so to speak throughout the festival season. With the script re-written, the cast "assembled" and rehearsals on the way, we looked at premiering the full stage performance in October 2021, in a town nearby, so as not to travel too far, also to ensure that the venue wasn't too expensive, since again, our budget was self-funded from our own purse, but we wanted most of all to gauge the response from a live mixed audience. I say mixed, as we targetted families with older children, from 7 years onwards, as well as young couples and middle age groups. Again the reception was amazing, and the performance was a great success, with feedback such as: " a tigh slapping evening", or fun filled evening with sing-along and laughter all the way".

We didn't have much time to sit back and celebrate our achievements, as we soon found ourselves on the eve of panto season. That time, when either one sits scratching their chin considering what to produce. For the final leg of the festivals, we went out with Aladdin, since this was pretty much ready from the previous live-online version, but since it was for the festivals it just needed to be shortenned to a mini production. This was schedulled for November time, when people were very much in the spirit of having a normal Chrsitmas and to make up for the lost celebrations of the year before.

We had a ball with it, and again, we were delighted with the crowds that turned up in spite of the weather, pretty much between 150-200 for each performance. And so it now remained to look at what we'll be doing for a December tour, what market will we be looking at and of course what production. Thus, we thought that taking Jack & The Beanstalk on tour would be more attractive. We put this production together, in a very short time and published it onto the Big Panto Touring platform to see what response we get. Not long after the publication of our touring panto, the phones and emailes started to pour in. We could not believe how popular Jack & The Beanstalk was, and we even had to turn down a considerable amount of enquiries, as we were fully booked for December, although, we extended the tour to January 2022, many schools were keen to have us in December.

After a little rest, with the celebrations of Christmas and New Year out of the way, we are now looking ahead to start another tour, it looks like we've now caught the "fever" for touring with a revised version of The Buccaneers, hoping this time a better, bolder yet still the same sought after production. We do after all, always look at improving and utilising skills that we have learnt or picked up along the way. We are also looking at starting work on the production of "It's All Gone Titters-Up" a production which we've had in mind for a while now, but due to Covid and lockdown, we felt we could not give it the attention needed. And thus, until next time, Happy New Year 2022 from all of us at AMA Theatre Co.

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