This August Bank Holiday, some of Oxford’s rising stars appear in 60 Hour Shakespeare’s Richard II, being streamed from six different time zones around the world to raise money for theatre workers affected by COVID-19.
And while Richard II is set in 1399, 60 Hour Shakespeare’s online performance and its global reach will be a 21st century technological coup.
Kicking off at 7.30pm tomorrow (August 31) we head deep into the realm of England’s Plantagenet King Richard II, who in turn will help raise money for the charity Acting For Others.
Amongst the gifted cast will be Didcot’s Bryony Reynolds who plays the Bishop of Carlisle, and understands the anxieties of freelance actors only too well.
“When they announced the closure of theatres with lockdown in March, it was like the rug had been pulled from under my feet,” she says. “I buried my head in the sand by trying to keep busy with whatever acting work I could find, so I am very excited to be getting stuck into Shakespeare again with 60 Hour Shakespeare’s Richard II.
So how were the preparations? “It was odd getting used to Zoom rehearsals at first,” she says, “when I’m so used to being able to bounce off other actors,” she says.
“There is a lot of trust involved in acting in an ensemble, and when you can’t be there with the other actors, it feels very vulnerable and emphasises how alone we are right now. But I gradually got used to it, and enjoyed the thrill of being able to perform again, from my very own home!”
She is also delighted to be acting again: “60 Hour Shakespeare has definitely opened up some incredible opportunities, and for the first time, I’ve been able to invite my friends in Australia, where I grew up, to watch the same shows as my family across the UK, and in Didcot – which was hard to imagine before lockdown.”
Caroline Taylor who plays Lord Willoughby, a newly graduated Oxford University English student, will also be starring, alongside Oxford’s Charlie Morgan.
In February, Charlie starred in Oxford’s ElevenOneTheatre’s Skylight as Kyra, and since lockdown has played Sylvia in Oxford Theatre Guild’s online The Recruiting Officer. She has also starred with Oxford’s Siege Theatre and Oxford Playhouse 17l25 Young Company.
Lola Beal who also studies English at Oxford University, and participates actively in Oxford’s drama scene as a playwright, actor and director, can also be found in this ground-breaking production of Richard II.
60 Hour Shakespeare performs with professional and amateur actors from around the world, who are cast from open auditions, to raise money for charity.
So why is the fundraising so crucial? Joel Marvin, of Acting For Others, said: “It is from the generosity of our supporters and events such as these that allow us to help so many in the industry that are in desperate need. It is inspiring to see the determination and creativity from this team, to produce live theatre, during this difficult time.”
Richard II is a Shakespearian history play and a tragedy, characterised by the psychological drama surrounding the deposition of King Richard II, who became King at the age of 10, and died in mysterious circumstances.
Register and help raise money for theatre workers with 60 Hour Shakespeare and Acting For Others, by booking to watch Richard II at 7.30pm tomorrow (August 31) at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/richard-ii-tickets-116232946873
To donate please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/60-Hour-Shakespeare-RichardII