Mercury Theatre announces festival to celebrate local talent

Colchester's Mercury Theatre is teaming up with Lakeside Theatre, University of Essex and Signals Me

Colchester's Mercury Theatre is teaming up with Lakeside Theatre, University of Essex and Signals Media Centre to stage an online festival at the end of August. Picture: MERCURY THEATRE - Credit: Archant

Colchester’s Mercury Theatre Colchester is joining forces with the University of Essex, Signals and the Lakeside Theatre to stage a brand new festival later this month celebrating local creativity.

The Mercury Online Festival will bring together creative talent from across the eastern region Photo

The Mercury Online Festival will bring together creative talent from across the eastern region Photo: Mercury Theatre - Credit: Archant

The Mercury Online Festival will be taking place over the weekend of August 21-23, 2020, and has been pulled together to celebrate the creativity of artists and theatre makers from the East of England, providing them with a unique opportunity to virtually showcase some of their very best work.

Following an open call application process, that received over 120 submissions, the curation panel have programmed their three day festival to include digital artworks, new writing, animation, comedy, virtual dance sessions as well as interactive online gaming.

The Festival kicks off on Friday August 21 with a special YouTube streaming of Off The Twig theatre’s The King Who Wanted to Live Forever, and an interactive Zoom performance of City Actor’s Super Stories with Up, Up, Up and Away! for little ones and their families.

The day continues with fun tech workshops and virtual video gaming sessions for young people with Colchester based digital learning specialists Signals, followed by an online exploration of renowned mixed media artist Sian Fan’s virtual works and a thrilling live Zoom performance in Cracked Lens Theatre Company’s Cyber Game.

The first day concludes with new writing from Colchester Playwright, Nicola Werenowska in a Zoom reading of new work Behind Doors, followed by innovative digital performance, Global Enhancers, presented by East 15 Acting School’s third year students, exploring the dystopian side of physical human/technology integration.

Saturday’s line-up includes an online performance of Roald Dahl and the Imagination Seekers from acclaimed theatre makers, Get Lost & Found, and an exciting Animation Hour, showcasing three new animation shorts from talented East based artists via the Mercury’s website.

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In the afternoon, Limbo-tech present Duality, an experimental motion captured live dance experience, and Lo-fi Theatre preview their new one man binaural headphone theatre piece, Wavelength. Revellers can then tune in via Zoom to catch Lumenis Theatre Company’s new writing, Bright Azzuro Sea, in the evening, and end their Saturday on a high with a short sketch comedy session from cabaret trio, The Dots.

Rounding up the Festival on Sunday, audiences can begin their daily online adventures with a YouTube streaming of Get Lost & Found’s must see children’s show, Mischief and Mystery in Moomin Valley, before heading over to Zoom for a midday spoken word event presenting live work from three home-grown poets, Gail Egbeson, Natascha Graham and James McDermott.

Discover what the Essex Steamettes, a group of young female coders, have been creating in the virtual world in an exciting show and tell, and enjoy two new short films from talented East-based creatives.

Then, audiences can spend the final evening with Colchester company Packing Shed Theatre, as they present new audio-drama Holding On, where the automated voice for a helpline has a surprise in store for an unsuspecting caller. The festival ends with a giggle with a comedy double bill from two of the East’s best up-and-coming comedy acts streamed on the Mercury website.

Audiences can head to Lakeside Theatre’s website throughout the festival for their Emerging Artist Shorts, showcasing creative works from the University of Essex’s student base.

All of the events are free to attend and engage with, however audiences and participants are encouraged to make a voluntary donation during or after the festival, with all proceeds going to the artists involved. Of the 21 main events presented over this unique digital offering, over half of the performances or workshops are presented via Zoom. Like most live shows, these sessions have a limited capacity, so spaces must be booked in advance.

The Mercury’s Creative Director, Ryan McBryde said: “While theatres remain dark, the Mercury remains determined to find new ways to support and champion the work of artists across our region. We hope our online festival will introduce our audiences to some really exciting new companies and works. We’re so proud to be presenting this incredible digital programme ready to stream directly to your screens. I urge you to check out the full weekend’s line-up, there really is something for everyone!”

Barbara Peirson, Artistic Director at Lakeside Theatre, said: “It is wonderful see how in this challenging time the Mercury is supporting regional and emerging theatre makers who are the core of our industry and who contribute so much to our culture and economy. “

Dr Mary Mazzilli, University of Essex Drama Lecturer and playwright, added: “We are very happy to be supporting this amazing festival. This is a testament to the resilience and the creativity of theatre folks who are able to adapt to the circumstances and make art no matter what. Our world needs theatre and creativity and for now the digital platform is keeping all of this alive.”

To find out more about the Mercury Online Festival, check out the full line up, and book onto the Zoom events, visit the Mercury website

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