BA (Hons) Acting graduate Katie Toon has performed as part of a 25 piece ensemble cast, including acting talent from the likes of Emmerdale, the National Theatre, and Game of Thrones in a collaborative lockdown effort to support and protect regional theatres across the UK.
Isolation Ensemble is raising funds for six regional theatres across the UK; including Salisbury’s Playhouse and Arts Centre, Birmingham’s Hippodrome Theatre, and Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre.
The project, devised by theatre director Abbie Riddell, came about in response to the 2.6 challenge, which asked volunteers and fundraisers to come up with unique and interesting fundraising efforts after the cancellation of huge national fundraisers like the London Marathon.
Theatres and arts venues across the UK have been some of the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with around 70 percent of UK theatres under threat of closure. The UK Government has recently unveiled plans for a £1.57billion bailout fund for arts institutions, but many performers, artists and staff could still be affected.
Katie said: “The purpose of Isolation Ensemble is to remain engaged with our craft regardless of our level of experience within the industry. Actors involved have ranged from those currently in training, right through to those who have notable credits. It’s been a great learning environment and I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to take part in something like this in such uncertain times.
“Our goal was simple: we wanted to fundraise to support regional theatres where many actors, directors, stage managers etc. so often start their careers at. Without these theatres, we perhaps wouldn’t have the opportunities to establish ourselves in the industry. Of course, this is fundamental to people graduating in 2020, like myself.
She added: “The project was led by theatre director and arts facilitator, Abbie Riddell, who is currently based in the South West. She contacted me on Twitter after I was advertising a social media hashtag challenge I’d created for actors.
“From that point on I was immersed in a devising process with 26 others to put together the collection of verbatim pieces performed in the finished product.”
BA (Hons) Acting Course Leader Katharine Piercey, said: “This project is a great example of the innovation and creativity that has come from the consequences of COVID-19, whilst raising funds for a very well-needed cause.”
“We’re so excited and proud to see an AUB actor being part of this project, and Katie’s involvement is a real testament to her proactive approach to entering and engaging with the industry upon graduation, despite the uncertain times we are in.”
If you would like to donate to the project, please visit:
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester