York Theatre Royal sets up Collective Arts to keep you busy, arty and digital at home

Let’s play: York Theatre Royal is encouraging theatre activities at home while everyone is in the grip of lockdown limbo

YORK Theatre Royal is to run the Collective Arts programme of “creative community engagement” during the Coronavirus pandemic shutdown. 

The St Leonard’s Place theatre is planning a series of digital activities and events to bring together York’s creative community of all ages until the building reopens.

Associate director Juliet Forster says: “We’re all finding the current circumstances challenging and are missing the joy of social gatherings, external stimuli and shared experience.

“But challenges can also be a great spur to creativity, and we’re really keen to find as many ways as possible to bring people together, to inspire creative responses and enjoy what we make together.”

Juliet Forster: York Theatre Royal associate director

One activity up and running already and open to all is the Lockdown Legends Challenge, a weekly creative project that invites people to submit responses to challenges such as filming one-minute plays (week one), designing costumes (this week) and creating production model boxes (coming next).

A new challenge is released every Monday morning on the theatre’s social media channels and submissions are then posted on these channels during the week.

The Theatre Royal is also adapting the delivery of the nationally recognised Arts Award, now to be undertaken from a home setting. The new guide is specially designed to be used by children and young people aged five to 25 years old, supported by their parents/guardians, to keep them busy, engaged and inspired by the arts at home. 

Another project aimed at engaging young people during this time is the Coronavirus Time Capsule. Working with a group of 20 young people, week by week the Theatre Royal will create a cumulative video time capsule, recording teenage experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.

York Theatre Royal : Out of bounds but stretching the boundaries of theatre. Picture: Matthew Holland

“The Coronavirus Time Capsule is a new international project run by Company Three and youth theatres across the world will be taking part and making capsules of their own,” says Juliet.

In addition, the Theatre Royal is organising the In Focus photography competition, open to all ages and abilities who are invited to send in their photos that show the realities of life in Coronavirus Britain.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, May 8. All entries will then be judged by a team from the theatre’s photography group.

Over the next few weeks, York Theatre Royal will release more projects and opportunities to take part in. All details on how to be involved can be found on the theatre’s website, yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Nothing happening in these long lockdown days. Everything off. Here are 10 Things To Do on the home front, courtesy of The Press, York. WEEK THREE

Nothing happening full stop. Now, with time on your frequently washed hands, home is where the art is and plenty else besides

EXIT 10 Things To See Next Week in York and beyond for the unforeseeable future. Enter home entertainment, wherever you may be, whether together or in self-isolation, in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. From behind his closed door, CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these suggestions.

Lockdown Legends Challenge, set by York Theatre Royal

EACH Monday morning, York Theatre Royal will post a theatrical #LockdownLegendsChallenge on its Twitter and Facebook pages for the whole family to take part in, just for fun. Even the participation of pets is “actively encouraged”.

York Theatre Royal: ideas for creating your own theatre magic at home in the Lockdown Legends Challenge

This week’s challenge is to make a one-minute play. “Send us your responses to lockdownlegends@yorktheatreroyal.co.uk and we’ll share these on our social media pages throughout the week,” says the Theatre Royal. “Remember to keep safe – and stay creative.”

Setting up a film reviewers’ club online

ARE you missing discussing the latest hit films at City Screen, Everyman York, Vue York and Cineworld? If so, why not start or join a film reviewers’ club online on WhatsApp, with the group having a name.

One group member chooses a film, old, recent, cult, blockbuster, world, British, American, whatever; gives a brief synopsis and initial thoughts behind the choice; sets a start and finishing date for viewing (whether on DVD, Netflix, etc), and then everyone gathers for a chat online to give their short reviews.

Explore York’s library and archive at York Explore, Museum Street, York

Explore York’s Libraries From Home

THE Explore York library and archive service will be developing online activities such as a Virtual Book Group, while updating regularly as “new things” come on stream and sharing them on social media, using #LibrariesFromHome.

Up and running now: 5,000 Ebooks and audio books for adults and children, free to borrow from exploreyork.org.uk/digital/e-books/; a new York Images site for exploring the city’s history through photographs, illustrations, maps and archival documents at exploreyork.org.uk/digital/york-images/; and the chance to start your family tree using Ancestry and Find My Past, for free, at exploreyork.org.uk/digital/online-reference/.

The Queen show must go on: We Will Rock You will rock you in 2021

Keep trying to find good news

DALBY Forest concerts, chopped. The first four classics of the flat racing season, all non-runners. Wimbledon tennis, out. Harrogate International Festivals summer season, off. York Festival, gone. Scarborough Open Air Theatre, shut. The list of cancellations keeps growing, but against that backdrop, theatres, music venues and festivals are busy re-booking acts and shows for later in the year or next year.

Keep visiting websites for updates, whether York Barbican, York Theatre Royal, the Grand Opera House, The Crescent, wherever. We Will Rock You has just been confirmed for the Grand Opera House for March 22 to 27 next year.

Look out too for the streaming of past hit shows. More and more theatres and arts companies are doing this…

Breath of fresh Eyre: The National Theatre’s innovative Jane Eyre, directed by Sally Cookson. This picture features the 2017 touring cast at the Grand Opera House, York

…For example, National Theatre At Home on YouTube

HULL playwright Richard Bean’s comic romp One Man, Two Guvnors has drawn more than two million viewers since being launched on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel last Thursday.

Next up, available for free from 7pm this evening for a week, will be Sally Cookson’s innovative, dynamic, remarkable stage adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Yorkshire novel, Jane Eyre. You may recall the NT’s touring production from its week-long run at the Grand Opera House, York, in May 2017. Truly worth staying in for…but you will be doing that anyway, won’t you.

Window of opportunity : Cancelled York Open Studios finds a way still to showcase art

Venturing outdoors…to spot #openwindowsyork2020 

AMID the strict Government strictures, when allowed out to walk the dog or take that one burst of mentally and physically beneficial exercise a day, you can discover a new form of “window dressing” and maybe even “window shopping” near you.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shut the doors on York Open Studios 2020, when 144 artists and makers would have been welcoming visitors on April 17 to 19 and 25 and 26. Enterprising as ever, they now say: “We can’t open our doors, but we can show you our work through our windows”, as they launch #openwindowsyork2020. “If you see one, let us know,” they add.

Welcome back Backgammon

Vintage game of the week: Backgammon

LOCKDOWN is the perfect chance to dust off faithful old games consigned to gathering dust on top shelves.

Bring back Backgammon, one of the oldest known board games, whose history can be traced back nearly 5,000 years to archaeological discoveries in Mesopotamia. In this quick-thinking two-player game, each player has 15 pieces that move between 24 triangles, according to the roll of two dice. You gotta roll with it, as Oasis once sang.

Easter egg hunt

EASTER Day celebrations demand an Easter egg hunt, whether indoors or in the garden, if that is possible.

Two customs spring to mind: firstly, wrapping eggs in ribbon for boiling that will then leave a pretty decorative pattern on the eggs.

Secondly, writing poetic ditties as clues for the Easter egg hunter to find the hidden chocolate goodies. Happy hunting, happy Easter, dear readers.

Clap for Carers

YES, we miss the sound of applause bursting through our theatre walls, but for now, save your hand-clapping for showing support every Thursday at 8pm for our NHS doctors, hospital staff, carers, rising tide of volunteers and key workers. God bless them all.

Paul Merton: Welcome back Have I Got News For You for series number 59

And what about…

BOOKS on pandemics and plagues. Cookbooks. The return of BBC One’s Have I Got News For You on Fridays, albeit in compromised social-distancing-from-home form. The shockumentary series Tiger King:  Murder, Mayhem And Madness on Netflix. Writing a 10 Things list like this one.

Reading the regular Tweets from Reece Dinsdale, Emmerdale actor full of nous, and Alan Lane, Slung Low artistic director and man of action around Leeds. Keep drinking hot drinks and gargling regularly, as well as all that hand-washing.