Norfolk Theatre Company Looks to Post-Covid Future with Fireside Shows

Norfolk’s fEAST theatre will join the UK’s leading touring companies as they come together for a national project bringing live performance to audiences at a time when physical touring is not possible.

The aim of the project, Signal Fires, is a series of fireside performances that will connect audiences around the country with freelance artists and touring companies in a collective act of storytelling in a time of crisis for the theatre industry. The project is led by Headlong Theatre whose associate artistic director Holly Race Roughan said: ‘It has been incredibly inspiring and humbling to connect with so many different touring theatre companies, to be reminded of the sheer breadth and diversity of the UK touring ecology, the audiences we engage, and crucially what we now stand on the brink of losing. Touring theatre companies are vital for sharing stories across communities, so we can learn from each other and reimagine a future together.

fEAST, who were forced to cancel their touring plans for 2020, will be inviting audiences to gather round to enjoy stories from the East of England outside Wells Maltings on the 30th of October and St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth on the 6th of November.

In these socially distanced, Covid-safe, outdoor performances, seven actors from fEAST will perform scenes and songs from several of their best known shows and offer a glimpse of some new yet-to-be-performed work. The performance will take us on a journey through time and place from Yarmouth beach in the early 19th Century to Cromer and Norwich before the First World War via a 1943 US airbase near Wroxham and a medieval legend from our mist-shrouded saltmarshes.

For ten years fEAST theatre has been touring original plays in Norfolk and Suffolk including One-Eighty and The Canada Boys by Rob John, both of which starred the Nimmo Twins’ Owen Evans, and an adaptation of Jeremy Page’s acclaimed novel Salt, set on Morston marsh. The company has built up a loyal following and a reputation for telling powerful stories set in Eastern England and working with professional actors who can speak with the authentic voices of our region and were nominated in the theatre category of the Norfolk Arts Awards in 2019. fEAST’s touring plans for 2020 included a revival of The Canada Boys, a new work by Rob John and original short plays by up-and coming playwrights James McDermott and Catherine Herman, all of which have been postponed until 2021.

Cancelling our plans for 2020 was a grave blow for the company. At the start of the year fEAST was preparing for an ambitious season of touring work to celebrate our tenth anniversary, only to find ourselves with an empty calendar. Shutting down has left more than twenty freelancers without significant amounts of work. At this time of crisis for the performing arts industry, the Signal Fires events are a defiant reminder of the power and importance of story-telling and live performance. fEAST theatre is proud to be part of this imaginative project.

Dawn Finnerty, fEAST theatre Artistic Director

Signal Fires: Stories From The East is on at Wells Maltings on Friday the 30th of October at 6pm (Box Office: 01328 710 885) and St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth on Friday the 6th of November at 7pm (Box Office: 01493 331 484)