The first show to perform at the ADC Theatre this Autumn will be the student-written musical SURVIVAL STRATEGIES. We spoke to the show's writers, KATIE DUGGAN and GEORGIA RAWLINS, about the show and their creative solutions to social distancing...
How did the idea for Survival Strategies come to you?
Katie: Survival Strategies was first developed, believe it or not, before the COVID pandemic hit full force. But it was inspired by the feeling of impending doom as the true danger of the virus was starting to become increasingly apparent, on top of all the news stories about crime, political unrest, and environmental destruction popping up every day. It could be easy to feel like the world was ending: but this show was born out of a desire to find ways to cope with the scariness of our present moment, and find ways to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Georgia: Basically Katie came up with it and I was drafted in later. The funding body contacted me and gave me a brief overview of the show and asked if I’d be interested in composing for it. It looked super fun so I said yes, and the rest is history! We cut the plot down and redefined some characters together, and then got on with writing it around the new vision that we’d developed together.
The story of Survival Strategies is dark at times, but it’s a comedy. Why is it important to find the light side of dark situations?
It is so important to find the good in dark times - obviously the world is a stressful and dangerous place right now. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and it’s easy to panic - but satirising things makes them feel less bad, at least for a short while. We hope that audiences have a good laugh at the show (and enjoy the ~tasteful~ smattering of jokes about a certain virus) - but ultimately, the point of the show is to entertain people and bring them some fun. Musical comedy is an inherently collaborative and energetic form of theatre, and we were excited to use the theatrical form to bring people together (even if virtually) and be able to dance and laugh together. There are lots of dumb ways to die! But there are lots of dumb ways to survive. Either we can live in fear... or we can laugh and sing along!
We are collecting for the NHS as a company, because it is important to remember that the reason we were able to write this show at all is because of the incredible work of healthcare and key workers that has kept us safe throughout the year. In this way, we hope to give back and make our own light of a dark situation.
How has the need to socially distance your performers affected the show?
It’s been a challenge at times, but some awesome things have come out of it! One of the greatest inventions of the 21st century - the handpole (full copyright to the directorial team) - is our answer to social distancing. In terms of rehearsals, it’s been...interesting…doing them over Zoom, but it’s also been very fun and a good challenge. The company has gelled super well as a result and I am very proud to be a member of it.
Without spoiling too much, what is your favourite part of the show?
Georgia: There are a few moments in the show that I would never have picked as stand-outs before I saw our cast do them, but each of them has put their own spin on it and made the tiniest lines absolutely hilarious. Of course, it helps that they had such brilliant source material to begin with…
Katie: All the beautiful music. And the gummy vitamins!