Words: Katie Evans
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Bramley Parish Theatre Players, like many other theatre companies, has been working hard to keep theatre alive for its members and community.
Just before the 2020 lockdown the group enjoyed a successful production of its Beauty and the Beast Pantomime, which was a truly magical experience for the audience as well as the cast and crew involved in the show.
This was the first time the group had performed Beauty and the Beast and the commitment and support from all those involved, on and off stage, made for a brilliant showcase of talent.
To its members, BPTP has always been a family and like so many in the arts industry, the group faced sadness and disappointment at having to postpone rehearsals for their next annual Bramley pantomime, in light of the pandemic restrictions.
Aside from the shared love of performance and all things ‘theatre,’ Bramley Parish
Theatre Players has always been a haven for socialising, joy and support for those involved, and members have really missed the chance to sing, dance, perform and enjoy time spent with friends.
It was decided by the committee that there would be a series of workshops, in the absence of rehearsals, for members of the group and those who wanted to attend, covering a range of creative and challenging activities and skills.
The group’s current Director organised and facilitated fun and innovative sessions, with support from the Safeguarding Officer to ensure a COVID-secure environment.
Through the wide range of in-person and online workshops, people came together each week to enjoy play reading, dance and acting sessions and a brilliant Ten-Minute Pantomime.
Some highlights included readings of Calendar Girls (Tim Firth) and Daisy Pulls it Off (Denise Deegan), The Odd Couple (Neil Simon) which were comical, emotional and adventurous, and invigorating dance rehearsals to well-known songs such as Shut
Up and Dance (Walk the Moon).
A Ten-Minute Pantomime took place on Zoom, and the cast were fully committed to the characters of Sleeping Beauty. This included brilliant costumes, colourful backdrops and expressive voices from everyone at home! Each workshop allowed for developing skills such as what makes a good audition and script reading but most importantly, provided the much-needed space to meet with friends (even virtually) and for people to come together, sharing their passion, once again.
The workshops have been incredibly well-received by those involved, providing “a sense of normality amongst the chaos”, according to one BPTP member. They have absolutely been the highlight of the week for many.
The “younger group members have particularly enjoyed the workshops and have been thankful for them,” with a chance to once again spend time with friends and have fun (BPTP Member). The sessions are suitable for all ages and promote a can-do attitude, lots of laughter and chance to share the magic that is performance, once again.
As the pandemic continues to be a challenge and struggle for many, Bramley Parish Theatre Players has continued to show commitment to the arts, its members old and new and the celebration of talent, highlighting not just how to keep the spirit of local theatre alive and kicking, but the love, friendship and community that comes with being part of such a wonderful group.