HighTide reveals further Lighthouse Programme details and announces stellar cast for Love In The Time of Corona

HighTide reveals further details on industryleading response to crisis and announces
stellar cast for Love In The Time of Corona

The cast for the five monologues written for Love In The Time of Corona, as part of HighTide’s Lighthouse Programme, have now been released. Aisha Zia’s (No Guts No Heart No Glory, UK tour, BBC 4, Fringe First Award winner) piece will be performed by Jade Anouka (Last Christmas) while Katie Lyons (Manhunt, ITV) takes on Olivier Award nominee Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s work in the first of the monologues to be released on Thursday 9th April.

Sophie Melville (Bang, S4C) will share Ben Weatherill’s (Jellyfish, Bush Theatre and National Theatre, now in development with BBC) piece, BAFTA nominee Dawn King’s will be presented by Shobna Gulati (Coronation Street, ITV) and spoken word artist Debris Stevenson (Poet In Da Corner, Royal Court and UK tour, Evening Standard Best Newcomer nominee) will perform her own monologue. All five of the writers of Love In The Time of Corona are currently developing full-length plays for Suba Das’s inaugural HighTide Festival in 2021.

Filmed and edited through support from HighTide’s sponsor Lansons, one of the world’s leading reputation management companies, the first of these digital productions created by HighTide will be available for free from next week on their channels. The scripts will also be available royalty free for actors and directors to make their own digital versions and will be showcased on HighTide’s social media channels.

HighTide’s Lighthouse Programme consists of free, brand new projects and programmes for artists, audiences and communities, specifically created to bring light in the weeks ahead. HighTide are the first NPO to launch such a comprehensive programme of support for the sector, offering a range of programmes to help artists. These strands reflect the values that sit at the heart of HighTide: to introduce audiences to new work that speaks to the times we live in by the most exciting and diverse writers in the UK; to support emerging writers on their journey; and to engage communities in their home region in Suffolk.

Artistic Director of HighTide, Suba Das comments, Over 200 individual artists and companies have engaged with our Lighthouse Programme since we raced to create this new support programme the week that the theatre’s began to close; and our supporters have already donated £16,000 to these efforts, totally smashing all of our expectations. That tells us plainly that what we’re doing matters. It’s a strange and distressing time, but we’re so heartened that we’re helping provide a sense of focus and community. It’s an honour to have world class writing talents like Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Ben Weatherill; and actors such as Jade Anouka and Katie Lyons supporting our efforts. It’s equally important that we’re reaching and supporting an emerging generation who risk losing the opportunity to fully develop their talent with the shutdown in place. So whether that’s with Dawn King’s livestreamed playwriting classes; or our Cancellation Catalogue through which we hope to rescue some shows that will no longer go to Edinburgh; or the online participatory work we’ll be doing with the Suffolk Young People’s Health Project; we hope that isolation doesn’t also mean silence.

The Lighthouse Programme also includes:

For writers from the East of England and/or from a socio-economically deprived background, Write That Play is a new programme to help new and emerging writers learn about playwriting craft and work towards completing a first draft of a new play. HighTide writer and BAFTA nominated Dawn King will lead a live-streamed weekly workshop over ten weeks taking the group through playwriting exercises and tasks. At the end of the course, their completed draft can be submitted for notes. Applications for this exciting opportunity close on Tuesday.

Playwright Crisis Support Programme will see HighTide’s incredible alumni, including Luke Barnes, Kenny Emson, Anders Lustgarten, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Vinay Patel and Nick Payne, adopt an emerging writer. Over twelve weeks, the small group of writers will be looked after by the HighTide team and an alumni. The focus is artist wellbeing during this period of crisis and individuals goals will be set with each playwright; these could range from completing a new draft, facilitating for a writer to hear their work out loud, navigating the financial support available to freelance artists. Preference will be given to applicants from the East of England and/or from a socio-economically deprived background and applications close on Wednesday

To further support playwrights moving forward with their practice, HighTide’s newly appointed Associate Artists, Aisha Zia, Chinonyerem Odimba, Chris Sonnex and The Queer House, have committed to regularly reading and feeding back on scripts. The Script Reading Service is open to all UK playwrights during submission windows, however priority will be given to writers who are based in the East of England and/or are from socio-economically deprived backgrounds. A hundred scripts were received in the first submission window last week, further windows will be announced in late April and June.

HighTide’s Cancellation Catalogue is for premiere runs of British new writing that were cancelled due to Corvid-19. Giving shows new life where opportunity was ripped away by circumstance, the pieces will be placed on a priority list for programming in the next HighTide Festival in Spring/Summer 2021.

In partnership with the Suffolk Young People’s Health Project (4YP) and Company Three’s groundbreaking Coronavirus Time Capsule programme, HighTide will create an online youth theatre space for some of the most vulnerable and isolated young people in the East of England. With sessions and content delivered by some of the UK’s most exciting theatremakers, and linking up similar youth projects all over the world, Let’s Create seeks to widen participants’ horizons, even during a time of lockdown.

Throughout the crisis and in partnership with Nick Hern Books, HighTide will share a regular programme of simple playwriting tasks and exercises created by great playwrights past and present to help keep boredom at bay. The traditional period of a quarantine was 40 days so HighTide will be sharing 40 simple standalone playwriting tasks across their social channels with 40 Plays / 40 Nights. They invite all writers with a wi-fi connection to share their responses for feedback, discussion and celebration.

imitating the dog to stream online acclaimed production of Night ofThe Living Dead™ – Remix and selection of work from the last 20 years.


imitating the dog to stream online acclaimed production of Night of The Living Dead™ – Remix and selection of work from the last 20 years.

In response to the COVID -19 restrictions, imitating the dog, one of the UK’s most original and innovative theatre companies have announced that they will be providing online through their website to a selection of their work from the last 20 years. The series will start on Friday 3 April and will include the acclaimed Night of The Living Dead™ – Remix, a shot-for-shot stage recreation of George A. Romero’s classic 1968 zombie movie, made in co-production with Leeds Playhouse – on Friday 17 April.

Every fortnight on Fridays for the foreseeable future the company will release the next in a selection from their theatre performances and sited work. Besides the aforementioned Night of the Living Dead™ – Remix (17 April), the works will include projection project Oh, The Night! (3 April), a strange and fantastical bedtime story; Arrivals and Departures(1 May), a Hull 2017 commission which looked at the city’s legacy of migration, the company’s theatre production 6 Degrees Below the Horizon (15 May)which is a macabre and playful tale involving sailors, pimps, barflies, chorus girls and nightclub singers; and Yorkshire Electric (29 May), a projection project using clips from the Yorkshire Film archive. Further productions will be announced through social media in the coming weeks.

Each production will remain on the website and can be viewed on a Pay-What-You-Like basis. The income from this will go into a development fund, for the company to support freelance artists and practitioners to create new work.

Simon Wainwright, Co-Artistic Director of imitating the dog said:

With the end of our own Night of The Living Dead™ – Remix  tour cancelled and so, so many events and performances now postponed we thought we’d make some of our past shows available for people to watch online. We’re in a lucky position to have some fantastic recordings of past work, mostly filmed by our friends Shot by Sodium. It’s obviously no substitute for the real thing but in these isolated days, and until we can get together in a room again, we hope these videos will provide joy, thinking and entertainment in equal measure.” 

imitating the dog have been making ground-breaking work for theatres and other spaces for more than 20 years. Their work, which fuses live performance with digital technology, has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people in venues, outdoor festivals and events across the world. Past productions have included Hotel MethuselahA Farewell to ArmsHeart of Darkness and most recently Night of the Living Dead™️ – RemixTheir sited work has included commissions for Hull City of Culture 2017 and light festivals across the UK.

For more information and to watch productions from Friday 3 April visit http://www.imitatingthedog.co.uk/watch/

Digital Dance: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Home From Home





Birmingham Royal Ballet is launching Home From Home, a new series of online content which will give an exclusive insight into the company’s daily routine and specially curated performances as they stay fit and creative whilst in isolation at their homes across the globe.

The Birmingham Royal Ballet: Home From Home series will open with Ballet Class Live, an exclusive live-streamed class led by Ballet Master Dominic Antonucci that company members will be dialling into voluntarily from wherever they live in the world.

Initial programming will also include a very special ‘living-room’ performance of The Swan, set to Camille Saint-Saëns’s Le Cygne from Le Carnaval des animaux, introduced by Birmingham Royal Ballet Director Carlos Acosta and performed at home by principal dancer Céline Gittens, accompanied by principal pianist Jonathan Higgins and cellist Antonio Novais from Birmingham Royal Ballet’s orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.

Both projects have been created in partnership with BBC Culture in Quarantine. Launched by BBC Arts, Culture in Quarantine is a virtual festival of the arts rooted in the experience of national lockdown whereby UK Creative industries can come together to share content and ideas. Jonty Claypole, BBC Head of Arts, says:

“The mission of Culture in Quarantine is to support the arts and ensure the greatest possible access to culture in people’s homes.

We’re thrilled to be working with one of the greatest dance companies in the world, Birmingham Royal Ballet, on this unique project.

In Ballet Class Live, anyone at home can join Birmingham Royal Ballet in warm-ups and basic steps. And in a special performance, Céline Gittens will dance the iconic ‘The Swan’ solo, which has an added poignancy at this time of isolation and national lockdown.”

Friday 3 April from 11.00 BST via BBC.CO.UK/ARTS

Tune in to watch (and participate) with the Birmingham Royal Ballet company as they dial in to a special ballet class live from their homes all over the world including Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand, the USA and UK.

Led by one of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Ballet Masters Dominic Antonucci, the class will give access to the daily physical warm up routine of these world-class dancers, with online participants including Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet Carlos Acosta, who says:

“Every dancer needs to stay fit and flexible and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. During this period of self-isolation and quarantine, it is vitally important that our company, based in their homes all over the world, continue to meet up online and take daily ballet class.

As part of the Birmingham Royal Ballet: Home From Home series, we will be giving exclusive ballet class access to BBC’s Culture in Quarantine from 11.00am GMT on Friday 3 April.

Why not tune in and watch our company of world-class performers in class, and why not even participate yourself from the comfort of your own home?” 

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Home From Home: Ballet Class Live will be led by Ballet Master Dominic Antonucci and accompanied by pianist Ross Williams

Wednesday 8 April at 15.00 BST via BBC.CO.UK/ARTS and BRB.ORG.UK

At 3pm on Wednesday 8 April, BBC’s Culture in Quarantine will make available a specially curated performance of The Swanintroduced by Carlos Acosta and performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet principal dancer Céline Gittens, accompanied by principal pianist Jonathan Higgins and cellist Antonio Novais from Birmingham Royal Ballet’s orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.

This poignant piece, set to Camille Saint-Saëns’s Le Cygne from Le Carnaval des animaux, was originally choreographed by Mikhail Fokine for legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova and is popularly known as The Dying Swan.

Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta says:

“Welcome everybody in this moment of stillness.

We are going to try an experiment; I frankly don’t know how it’s going to turn out.  We are going to perform for you one of my favourite pieces, The Swan. I have purposely changed the end, so this is a dance about life, about hope.

This is a dance of promises, it represents the end of something and the beginning of something else, and in these crazy times that we are living we all need a new beginning.

This is a gift from Birmingham Royal Ballet to you, enjoy”

Hale Barns Carnival Organisers Announce ‘Party At Home’ Event




Organisers of the annual Hale Barns Carnival have announced a new ‘Party At Home’ live streaming week-long festival on April 6th-12th, which sees a selection of star names and local acts performing a live concert from their homes each night. The event will be streamed for free to followers of the Hale Barns Carnival Facebook page.

Headlining the party at the home festival is 70s Disco Group, HOT CHOCOLATE with lead singer Kennie Simon performing a live set from his home featuring the bands biggest hits including ‘Every1s a Winner’ ‘You Sexy Thing’ and ‘So You Win Again’.

Nathan Moore of BROTHER BEYOND & WORLDS APART will be performing a live set featuring his 80s PWL hit ‘Harder I Try’. Nathan performed at last year’s Hale Barns Carnival supporting Martin Kemp and proved a big hit with audiences.

Local performers and acts will be joining the line up; including THE VOICE crossover Soprano star, SCARLETT QUIGLEY who will be performing a special ‘Proms at Home’ set, so be sure to wave your flags in the kitchen while watching.

Rat Pack Singer & Newspaper Columnist WAYNE DEVLIN will be performing a Sinatra inspired set for the live streaming event having regularly performed at The Trafford Centre and at various events in the area.

Greatest Hits Radio Presenter, DARREN PROCTOR will be streaming a live DJ set for the event and promises to play all your favourite tunes from the 70s, 80s and 90s to boogie at home, with fellow DJ sets from Pete ‘Toilet Roll Gun’ Scotson and Hale & Bowdon Magazine’s Salim Uddin Khandakar featuring in the week-long event!

The live streaming event on the Hale Barns Carnival Facebook page is completely free and will feature live performances from 8pm each night throughout the week of the 6th-12th April, there will be an option for viewers to donate with event organiser fundraising to help local community groups during this tough time with support for local food banks, Hospice care and local help the elderly projects.

Event organiser, Max Eden spoke if his excitement ahead of the event: “We really hope that this year’s Hale Barns Carnival can go ahead, we’ve put so much into this year’s event with a line up which includes Motown legend, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas and at this moment the event is still going ahead, but in these days of lockdown we wanted to bring the party to everybody at home, so I set to work to put together Hale Barn’s very own virtual festival and bring the community together with an experience everyone can share from their living rooms.

“We’ve got a few surprise names who will be popping up during the week-long live streaming event and I’m so grateful for the support from artists, sponsors, partners and the community to get this off the ground in such a short space of time, I hope we can bring one big party experience to everyone in Lockdown and raise vital funds for vital community projects in the process.”

The live streaming event is supported by sponsors, B&M Bargains & Benchmark Security and partners, Hale & Bowdon Magazine and WA15 Studios.

To watch the live streaming broadcast each night from 8pm from April 6th to April 12th – simply go to the Hale Barns Carnival Facebook page, like the page in advance to be notified when each night goes live.

Website:         www.halebarnscarnival.co.uk

Facebook:       www.facebook.com/HaleBarnsCarnival/

Twitter:​           @HaleBarnsEvents #HBCarnival

The Pleasance Theatre Trust suspend planning for 2020 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The Pleasance Theatre Trust suspend planning
for 2020 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

As part of a collective agreement with other venue operators and The Festival Fringe Society, it is with great sadness that The Pleasance Theatre Trust has taken the decision to suspend planning for the 2020 Edinburgh Festival Fringe season. This follows the suspension of operations at the Pleasance Theatre in London earlier this month. While the Pleasance remains hopeful that we will be through the worst of this crisis by August, public safety remains their top priority. It is clear that there are a great many uncertainties and this constantly evolving situation has the potential to create a great deal of personal risks for performing companies, artists and venues. The ‘unknown’ is undoubtedly one of the Fringe’s most exhilarating characteristics. However, in this instance, it is one that creates critical challenges. It is for these reasons that the decision to suspend has been made now.

The Pleasance has stood proudly at the centre of the Fringe community for 35 years and exists to champion great voices, ideas and experiences – an ethos that remains unchanged. Committed to supporting artists, the Pleasance will be refunding any deposits and marketing fees already paid by companies. As part of the communication with existing ticket holders, the Pleasance will be giving audiences the option to convert their tickets into donations that will be shared between the venue and performing company.

Anthony Alderson, Director of the Pleasance, says, Our primary concern is for public safety. In light of the current risk to public health, and with so much uncertainty about future risk, we firmly believe there is no alternative but to suspend any plans. We also want to avoid the significant financial liabilities that performers and visiting companies could have by going forward. I sincerely thank and congratulate all of those artists that have spent so long creating such incredible work. We truly hope that it has not been in vain. Our programme is curated with works that excite and challenge us – this remains the case. These artists continue to be part of the Pleasance family and, whether it is in London or Edinburgh, we would be delighted to continue discussing future opportunities. In time, when restrictions are lifted and life returns to a new kind of normality, we will reopen and once again capture that undefinable Fringe spirit that embodies all those who perform with us, work with us and visit us. Our London theatre’s doors will open as soon as we’re able and we will return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe galvanised within a renewed purpose. We will establish new ways to support artists and even better routes to help audiences discover them. We will thrill, amaze, provoke and entertain. We will persevere. We hope we can do this together.

Edinburgh’s August Festivals Will Not Take Place in 2020

Edinburgh’s August Festivals Will Not Take Place in 2020

1 April 2020, Edinburgh: For the first time in over 70 years, the five festivals that transform Edinburgh into the world’s leading cultural destination every August are not going ahead this year due to concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic. Edinburgh Art FestivalThe Edinburgh Festival FringeEdinburgh International Book FestivalEdinburgh International Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo are not happening as planned in 2020. 

Together, the five August festivals comprise over 5,000 events across Scotland’s capital each summer, welcoming audiences of 4.4 million and over 25,000 artists, writers and performers from 70 countries, making them the second biggest cultural event in the world after the Olympics.

The festivals’ history stretches back to 1947, where in the aftermath of the Second World War the Edinburgh International Festival was founded to reconcile and reunite people and nations through art, in an event that transcended political and cultural boundaries. Many years later the International Festival continues to present the world’s leading theatre, dance and music artists in Edinburgh’s magnificent venues. The Fringe story began when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform on the fringes of the very first International Festival. Since the dawn of this spontaneous artistic movement, millions have flocked to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to produce, and to enjoy art of every genre. Conceived in 1950 the iconic major event, now known as The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, brings together a huge cast of international military and folkloric performers to perform live to 220,000 visitors each August, with many millions seeing the show on BBC TV around the world.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival began in 1983 and has grown rapidly in scope and size, welcoming writers from all over the world to exchange ideas on some of the world’s most pressing issues. The youngest of the August festivals, Edinburgh Art Festival was founded in 2004 to provide a platform for the visual arts, each year bringing together the capital’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces to present work by international and UK artists.

Since their visionary beginnings the August festivals have presented the very best established and emerging artists from all corners of the globe and across all aspects of the performing, literary and visual arts in what has become the most significant and important celebration of culture anywhere in the world.

Said Sorcha Carey, Director, Edinburgh Art Festival
“It is with deep sadness that today we announce the cancellation of Edinburgh Art Festival 2020. Our decision is taken in response to the ongoing risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the need to prioritise the safety of our audiences, artists, participants, staff and indeed all those working to combat coronavirus

“While it has become impossible to deliver a festival this year, we remain fully committed to doing all we can to continue to support our visual arts community during what is going to be a hugely challenging time in the weeks and months to come.  

“We hope that it will be possible for galleries, museums and production spaces across the city to reopen their doors in the coming months; and in the meantime, we will work creatively to find alternative ways to share the work of artists with audiences. 

“We will be back next year – as always working closely with our partner galleries, and alongside our extended network of sister festivals, to celebrate the work of artists with audiences and communities across the city.”

Said Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society,

It’s heart-breaking that the Fringe and our sister August festivals will not take place as planned this summer. However, having taken advice and considered all the options, we collectively believe this is the only appropriate response.

“The safety of participants, audiences, local residents and indeed everyone connected to our festivals will always come first. Our thoughts today are with the doctors, nurses, health and social care professionals on the front line, as well as all those affected by this dreadful pandemic. Our sympathies too are with the thousands of artists and participants directly affected by today’s decision – we will do everything we can to support you over the coming months.

“Culture brings out the best in us. It gives the marginalised a voice, it shapes and reshapes how we think of ourselves and, crucially, it unites us. Since their inception in 1947 the Edinburgh festivals have existed to champion the flowering of the human spirit and, in the face of this truly unprecedented global emergency, we believe that this spirit is needed now more than ever.

Said Nick Barley, Director, Edinburgh International Book Festival,

“It is with great sadness that I can confirm that the Edinburgh International Book Festival will not take place as a physical entity in August of this year due to the risks surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, however the safety of not only our authors, our audiences, our staff and our suppliers, but also that of the people who live and work in our wonderful city, is of paramount importance and we believe that planning to bring large numbers of people from all over the world together in Edinburgh in August is not appropriate this year. We hope to be able to programme a series of online events to take place in the summer.

“We will be back! The Edinburgh International Book Festival is an integral part of the Scottish cultural offering, and we will return next year. We are already looking forward to authors and audiences coming together to celebrate the written word in 2021. In the meantime, please keep reading and please keep supporting your local independent bookshops, many of whom are offering a mail order or door drop delivery service.”

Said Fergus Linehan, Festival Director, Edinburgh International Festival

“We are hugely disappointed to announce this cancellation but given the current outlook we believe it is the correct decision. We recognise that Edinburgh’s festivals play a very important role in the cultural, social and economic lives of our city and country, and this decision has not been taken lightly. Our thoughts are with all the country’s key workers and we hope that we can celebrate your heroic efforts when this awful pandemic has passed.

“The Edinburgh International Festival was born out of adversity – an urgent need to reconnect and rebuild. The current crisis presents all at the Festival with a similar sense of urgency. Work begins straight away on a 2021 Festival season that will boost both our spirits and our economy.

“As we observe our essential social distancing we can, I hope, look forward to being back together soon: sharing brilliant music, theatre, dance, literature and art from the greatest creative minds of our time. Until then, thank you for all your good wishes and keep safe in the coming months.

Said Brigadier David Allfrey MBE, Chief Executive, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

“Like most people, businesses and institutions, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been working hard to adapt to the unprecedented conditions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“In the first instance, we have sought to comply carefully with Government advice and guidance in looking after our customers, staff, suppliers, stakeholders and all those who rely on our annual success and charity. In addition, we have been looking at how best to make a wider and constructive contribution to the national, regional, municipal and individual effort. 

“The pandemic is impacting across the world, the Tattoo – along with other major events and festivals – will need to carefully understand and adapt to whatever is our new normal. 

“We are keen to do this as a great many people have come to rely on our annual routines for their livelihood and their entertainment, with an associated benefit that stretches internationally and across Scottish and UK tourism. Now though, we judge it is impractical and undesirable to stage a Tattoo in anything like its normal form in August. 

“Accordingly, we have decided – for the first time in our 70-year history – to cancel our 25 shows set previously for the period 7–29 August 2020.”

Said Council Leader Adam McVey and Depute Cammy Day,

This was a profoundly difficult decision– leaving a massive gap in our Capital – but clearly it was the right one. Our thoughts are very much with all those fantastic artists, writers, performers and organisations who were working so hard to prepare for another busy festival season.

The most important consideration is the health of our residents and the safety of everyone in the City. We’re all working closely together as a city and internationally with the common purpose of protecting each other, whilst taking up our shared responsibility for planning towards our recovery. 

With that in mind, we’re looking at every feasible option to help to sustain our key sectors, including the festivals, and have committed to honouring all grant payments due to our cultural partners for the current year, and to the repurposing of these, as required. We’ll do everything we can to assist our world-renowned cultural sector to remain at the centre of the city’s identity going forward.

We’re incredibly proud to be known as the world’s Festival City and must never forget the positive contribution our festivals make to our lives, bringing art to Edinburgh in a way no other city enjoys. We’ll continue to work with all of our citizens, colleagues and stakeholders to do everything we can to make sure we come through 2020 and look forward to again bringing the world to Edinburgh and Edinburgh to the world for our summer festivals in 2021!

Creating entirely new Micro-Operitas online with #OperaHarmony

Creating entirely new Micro-Operitas online with


Spring 2020

Connecting creativity in the Coronavirus Crisis, #OperaHarmony looks to assemble teams from across the globe for all new homemade micro-operitas to be shared online. With ongoing support, composers will be paired with librettists to build the pieces on the themes of ‘distance’ or ‘community’ before being matched with directors and singers to record and turn their microopera into an online reality to share with the world.

This entirely innovative way of creating networks, at a distance, between all those invested in creating opera comes from the current Stage Director of the International Opera Awards, Ella Marchment. Ella has worked for world-renowned companies and conservatoires as a director and teacher including Guildhall School of Music and Drama, The Julliard School, Dutch National Opera, Wexford Festival Opera and The Royal College of Music. Additionally she has a track record of creating opportunities for artists and new commission and, through her organisation, Helios Collective, has engaged over 1,500 artists in making opera, and commissioned numerous new operas and plays many of which have been endorsed and hosted by English National Opera.

Ella Marchment, organiser, comments, The other day I was thinking about how we could still make art together even through these difficult circumstances, how we can use this forced separation to bring us closer. I am committed to giving as many people opportunities as possible – regardless of experience – to create art. My interest in commissioning originated from a desire to give artists a step onto the career ladder but, in this situation where we now have no apparent stage and are all in the same boat, the idea is to create networks between all those invested in creating opera and plant the seed for new professional relationships that have the potential to grow further once we are out of this situation. #OperaHarmony began with a Facebook post and I have been overwhelmed by the response of artists from around the world. I
now understand its potential to unite, connect and stimulate creativity across the entire opera industry.

In a time when so many of the world’s opera companies have shut and we are confined to the boundaries of our own four walls, it has become imperative to search for means in which creativity can still flourish. #OperaHarmony is an opportunity to make something beautiful together out of an incredibly dark time.