We’re all locked down and locked in. Theatres and schools have been closed and exams and performances cancelled. But, in a firm push back to pandemic panic there has been a surge of innovation and creativity, and a determination to ensure that the show must go on. For the word show, insert a new way of engaging. Theatres and schools are finding new ways of making connections with those communities that are most important to them. The virtual doors of lockdown are being pushed open, social distancing respected and digital technology is holding gloved hands with creative endeavours as never before. It’s an exciting time for content makers and publishers and especially organisations like Digital Theatre+ who thrive on ensuring that teachers and students have access to the most relevant, motivational and inspiring content that they can provide.

When making any form of content, it’s vital to begin with asking a series of questions:

  • Who is the audience?
  • Why this audience?
  • What do they want?
  • What do they need?
  • Why do they need/want it?

How can we create something that meets their needs and wants? In ideal circumstances (non-pandemic ones), there would be the luxury of having planning time, however, sometimes serendipity and chaos can play a role in bringing about an idea that ticks all the right boxes even before the thinking on it has been fully developed. And a few weeks ago, the stars aligned (excuse the pun) and Master Cast emerged in such a way.

The ambition of Master Cast was to, quite literally, zoom an ensemble of theatre experts into the lives and living rooms of students and teachers around the globe and share a series of six conversations with them that felt like one – a bit like six relay runners having their own sprint, but there is only one race! The Master Cast race was to explore the journey of the formation of an idea through to its fully embodied life on stage and to hear from writers, directors, designers and actors at each twist and turn of the journey.

With the playwright Simon Stephens at the helm, Master Cast launched Episode 1 with Willy Russell in conversation about where ideas come from. It’s not so much about having an idea though, it’s about acting upon it. And it is action, movement, rhythm and physicality that are the defining features in each of the conversations. Theatre is a practical and interpretive art form, and as each of Episode of Master Cast unfolds, there are two elements that appear to be vital across all creative processes – pragmatism and playfulness.

Our Master Cast series reveals an ensemble of creative talent that have their feet in the mud and their eyes on the stars. They talk expertly and thoughtfully about theatre, its place in society, the essence of story and what it teaches us, and all unite in their belief that the curtain will rise again soon.

Master Cast is available to watch every Wednesday at 5pm (BST) on Facebook.

Fiona Lindsay | Creative Content Producer