|Photography: Sean Owen|
During the summer of 2020, the Artistic Directors of the Sewell Barn Theatre were contacted by members of a Norfolk creative writing course, and asked to provide a team of performers to bring their scripts to life on Zoom calls. This was such a success that we decided to run three more sessions, calling for the support of local writers and performers. We selected ten of those pieces, intending to present them in late 2020. Another lockdown intervened… and finally, in June 2021, we are able to perform them LIVE on the Sewell Barn stage between 9-12 June, under the title Put Your Shorts On!
To ensure the safety of our audience, the capacity of the theatre (normally 100) has been reduced to 25; each half, consisting of five short items, will be performed by a team of four actors plus director and stage manager, using separate dressing rooms; and all other necessary measures will be taken to ensure the safety of audiences and cast.
The pieces in Put Your Shorts On! are written for one, two or three performers. Their style varies from the domestic to the surreal, and from comedy to sadness; the settings include parks, cafes, supermarkets and living rooms; the subject matter covers relationships, dogs, shopping and estrangement; and the characters’ ages range from 20s to 70s. The authors are local, many of whom are seeing their work performed for the very first time, and we are hugely grateful that all have agreed to waive royalties, to help make live performances possible at the Sewell Barn in such difficult times.
We limited the audiences to 25 per show, keeping it cautious for COVID safety, and were delighted that - including a few additional tickets that we were able to release due to the sizes of some parties - we entertained 125 people in the course of the run.
"Really enjoyed this last night. Well done everyone, and so lovely to be back in the Sewell Barn." Ruth H
"We did enjoy it and good to see some new acting talent as well as the excellent stalwarts. Also liked your music interludes tying the production together. We liked the way you did the photo projection, nice and simple but effective." Shelagh S
"Congratulations to the Sewell Barn and their determination to bring live theatre back to Norwich. At their current performance of Put Your Shorts On, great attention was paid to Covid regulations and carried out with care and attention to detail, but the welcome was so friendly and warm. Congratulations also to the actors and backstage support, for giving us an entertainment, very much based on our local literary talent and so professionally delivered. A thoroughly satisfying evening for all who attended. May it be a signal for the return of amateur drama to Norwich." June G
"A big ‘Thank You’ to everyone for the brilliant performances last night. It is so good to see you all again, and to be part of a ‘real’ audience." Roy & Eva T
"Very many thanks for providing a safe and stimulating theatre experience with the short plays. As a playwright myself I am greatly encouraged that a local theatre is prepared to give a platform to new writing. Please pass on our thanks to all involved." Tony V
We were especially pleased to welcome most of the authors to the show during the run, and to receive some lovely feedback:
"I just want to thank everyone concerned with Put Your Shorts On yesterday for such a wonderful theatrical experience. We received an incredibly warm welcome from everyone on our arrival, you’re such a friendly group of people! The show itself was absolutely stunning, the acting was incredible. Each piece was so powerful and by the end of the afternoon I had used all my emotions, I was drained. As the writer of Don’t Forget The Freddos Dad, I’d like to thank Cassie and Kevin for bringing my words to life. It could not have been performed any better. I have to say that it was one of the proudest moments of my life!" Tim Strugnell: Don't forget the Freddos, Grandad
"Terrific performances from everyone tonight. Huge congratulations to the entire Sewell Barn team for making this happen. This is always a fantastic venue to visit and we enjoyed a splendidly entertaining evening under your roof." Chris Sadler: I cried the first time I saw you
"It was such a thrill to see it performed. The actors played the parts so well, with the emotion and strength that I had intended in the dialogue. It was a play about domestic abuse, the kind that is played out so much behind closed doors without anyone realising. I think the actors really brought the message home. It was quite overwhelming to see it come to life." Julia Morris: Out of the blue