With theatres and companies having to adapt to our new normal, the industry have responded by creating works available to stream online. Adapting their show Romantics Anonymous to this new format, Wise Children will offer a mixture of live performances and online streaming – performing to a socially distanced audiences, whilst also streaming their work with partnering theatres via their digital tour format. Ahead of the show, performer Omari Hardwick tells us how he feels about performing to a socially distanced audience for the first time since lockdown!
Hi Omari, you’ll be taking part in Wise Children’s Romantics Anonymous in late September. How are you feeling ahead of the run?
Super excited! I saw the show’s first iteration at The Globe and was in complete awe. I never expected to experience the show from the other side – to be able to do so alongside so many brilliant friends is wonderful. I’ve felt so giddy seeing it all take shape after such a long period of not knowing when anyone would step on a stage again.
The performance will embark on a digital tour, with the last showing taking place live at the Bristol Old Vic to a socially distanced audience. What does a digital tour involve?
Wise Children are keeping up the spirit of sharing work as far and wide as possible – the US tour was sadly cut short so this is a wonderful way to get back on the road, virtually! We’re partnering with a number of theatres regionally and internationally. Most of them will have been hugely affected by this year’s events – being able to engage with work again is a step in the right direction and if you book a ticket through one of the partner theatres (hopefully local to you), it can generate some financial support for them.
What are your thoughts on performing to a live audience again?
I was not expecting to be back on a stage again this year, so being a part of this has been the most welcome surprise! I can only imagine it feels the same for theatregoers. We’ve all been yearning for live experiences again and Wise Children and Bristol Old Vic have been so brilliant and meticulous in how they make this work safely within the current climate.
Romantics Anonymous will see you multi-role as Fred and Salesman. How did you prepare for the role and how have you approached it?
I’m feeling pretty spoiled that it’s my first show post hiatus – I also couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be making work with. It’s a quick turnaround so my brain is flexing like mad – multi-rolling is common in Emma’s work so I should be used it by now, ha! The worlds she creates on stage are so inviting – you can’t help but just dive in and play.
How have you found returning to rehearsals since the beginning of the year? What did the process entail?
I’ve been teary at moments – I was watching Carly and Marc perform the finale which has the most beautiful choreography and I just thought ‘what a joyous and amazing thing we’ve been missing out on’ – I can’t wait for the audience to lap it up! Logistically, it’s been a massive feat for everyone involved, especially the people you don’t see on stage. We’ve had to adapt and adhere to some regulations that affect some of our usual rehearsal habits/routine but all of these precautions have only made our working environment safer. I hope this new practice means that we’ll see more and more rehearsal rooms and productions up and running.
Your previous work has seen you perform in productions such as Peter Panand Jesus Christ Superstarat the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Five Guys Named Moeat the Marble Arch Theatre and Tristan and Yseultat Shakespeare’s Globe. What have you learned during your time as a performer?
In the last couple of years, I’ve really learned to embrace surprise! I never expected to work with Emma and it’s been great to form a working relationship with someone who commits to nurturing her actors and gives them opportunities to play with such varied worlds and characters – often characters that you’d never expect to find yourself in.
What can audiences expect from the show?
Awkwardness, tenderness and soooo much chocolate!
What would you like for audiences to take away from the show?
A confidence that theatre is alive and well!!!
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
To watch Romantics Anonymous online, visit here…