How to make your own socially distanced play

A top guide to keeping other people away. In a nice way.

With the reopening of theatres on the horizon, rehearsals for new and exciting shows are in full swing. Keen thesps eager to return to the ADC stage have taken to rehearsing (and battling the elements) on Jesus Green, writing handy guides for learning lines and putting on shows, and utilising the dreaded Zoom as a restriction-free rehearsal space.

But this giddy excitement comes at a cost, namely theatre’s old nemesis… social distancing! How do you do that kissing scene? How do you show intimacy? Is Macbeth meant to just roll off the stage independently after his death?

With all these questions in mind, we have come up with several foolproof ways to maintain social distancing as you get creative!

Use a Consenting 6ft Natsci Student

With social distancing regulations in place, it is important that you and your company stay six feet apart during the rehearsal process. Of course, this is not the easiest thing to do since acting and the like involves, you know, moving. So I decided that the best course of action was to enlist the help of a Tit Hall Natsci student who is exactly six foot tall, and have him lay down between the actors during rehearsals.

Admittedly, not everyone has a Natsci to hand, but it was a pretty effective method of maintaining the distance needed! The only downside is that your Natsci might get uncomfortable and want to move off the wet grass…

Social distancing at its finest (Image Credits: Charlie Scott-Haynes)

Effectiveness: 7/10 – This is a pretty fun way of maintaining distance, and it definitely eases any first rehearsal nerves you might have. However, using a human as a giant ruler does have its draw backs!

Make Every Scene a Balcony Scene

If it worked for Shakespeare, it could work for you, right?

Rehearsing from my first-floor window certainly maintained the distance needed (and more!), and the odd passers-by even got a sneak peek of the show!

On the other hand, it’s tough to hear your fellow actors across the distance, and it is very weather-dependent for the person below you; Shakespeare didn’t put that in Romeo and Juliet!

Toope, Toope, wherefore art thou Toope (Image Credits: Charlie Scott-Haynes)

Effectiveness: 5/10 – While this is very fun and lets you live out all of your romantic dreams, it is definitely not the most effective method of ensuring social distancing. Sometimes the rain just wants to fall…

Enter from the Back of the Auditorium, but… Stay There

Everyone loves a surprise entrance; think the animals in the West End Lion King, or the chandelier in Phantom of the Opera. So why not try it yourself! But this time make sure you enter and then, you know, don’t move.

Trying this feels a little weird – like you’re about to do the Dirty Dancing lift but know full well you don’t have the skills to do it, so now you’re just standing awkwardly in the middle of a hall. Still, it does mean you maintain a safe distance and play with projection and vocals within the space.

Waiting for Patrick Swayze (Image Credits: Charlie Scott-Haynes)

Effectiveness: 8/10 – “Nobody puts Charlie in the corner” has a nice ring to it, I think. It might be a little weird, but this method is definitely a win and can be done in any space indoors or outdoors!

So there you go! Hopefully, this has given all you theatre kids a few new ideas for making sure your play is safe and socially distanced. Now get out there and get creative!

Cover Image: Charlie Scott-Haynes

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