The show must go on YouTube as Wellingborough theatre group zooms into limelight

Clockwise from the top left, Maria Hopton, John McIntyre, Brian Heathcote, Carole Haynes, Ben Knight and Tracey Goddard
Clockwise from the top left, Maria Hopton, John McIntyre, Brian Heathcote, Carole Haynes, Ben Knight and Tracey Goddard

A drama group keen to get back to their passion of treading the boards has found a new way performing a socially distanced play.

Wellingborough Co-Operative Amateur Dramatic Society (WCADS) members were determined that the show must go on and have recorded a Covid-busting Zoom perfomance.

Not to be deterred by theatres across the county being closed, WCADS members have been holding a weekly virtual play readings, quizzes and social get togthers.

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The sessions culminated in a ‘live’ performance of ‘Doing The Pub Quiz’ – a six-hander – from their kitchen tables, spare rooms and home offices.

Chairman John McIntyre, who played ‘Tom’ on screen from his new Dumfries home in 280 miles away, said: “From the very start of lockdown we had been play reading on Zoom going through scripts. We have had quite a few people come back to the society. It has been so much more convenient for people Zooming in. It is what has kept me going.

“We held auditions online and the cast rehearsed a few more times than usual, focusing on different areas of the script. We had to manage several technology issues that we’d never encounted before.

“To add to the pressure we recorded the whole play in one session so that it would be as close as possible to our live performances. One thing we did do was read the script, not remember it as we are used to.

“During one of our rehearsals my internet dropped off for a couple of minutes during the play which didn’t help. Other people’s cameras kept switching off.”

Written by David Spicer, the play introduces six members of the ‘world’s worst pub quiz team’ – We are Smarticus! – as they prepare for the first round of an important competiton.

The comedy follows the Zoom call banter of the characters as they tackle questions such as – what type of creature is Jar-Jar Binks? and was Spit the Dog ever UK prime minister?

John said: “It was nerve wracking because we wanted to get it right. We knew that if we made a mistake it would be there forever.”

The 50-minute play features John McIntyre, Maria Hopton, Brian Heathcote, Tracey Goddard, Ben Knight, and Carole Haynes.

Carole said: “I have been performing for about 40 years and it is a totally different experience to acting on the stage. For a start, there is no audience reaction or feedback to funny lines or sad moments so we have to imagine that what we are saying or doing is having the effect we want.

“I found that on-screen acting needed to be much more natural and subtle to create the impression that we were just like any group of friends getting together to take part in a quiz.

“It was also strange not to be standing in the wings feeling very nervous and worrying that I would forget my lines or miss a cue. We tried to recreate the feel of live acting by recording the play all in one go, with no stops or editing so the pressure was still on to do the very best we could.

“There is nothing quite like the thrill, excitement and adrenaline of acting before a live audience but I have really enjoyed the whole process of doing something different and keeping amateur theatre and our in particular our society alive, albeit remotely.”

Although there will be no charge to watch the play, WCADS have set up a link where viewers may donate to the society if they wish.

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