West Sussex writer seeks help to stage coronavirus play

Felpham actor/writer/director/producer Kevin Short tackles the whole coronavirus crisis in his new play.

Kevin Short
Kevin Short

“My play Isolation was inspired by real interactions with a comedian who believed ‘art was more important than life’.

“This year, as every year, I was to take several shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As programme deadlines approached, keeping abreast with the COVID-19 world situation, I battled with my conscience. Financial implications aside, health considerations took precedence.

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“Based on the science being presented, I wrote an open letter to participants, venues, directors, press and the Fringe Society. I also posted it on various forums. The question posed (Is art more important than life?), gleaned support and derision in equal measure, but one particular comedian had to be reported for harassment and bullying – his stance being; ‘My art is more important than life’.

“In short, his mantra was ‘To hell with the older generation, the young will carry on regardless.’

“The festival was cancelled, and my letter received much retrospective support, yet the hurt caused by this one comedian cut deep, and the only consolation was the inspiration it spurred.

“The play Isolation is the result.

“The piece pits an asymptomatic young comedian against an aging couple who rely on him for their food and essentials. By day, he is their young provider. By night, his illegal comedy performances incite hatred for the old.

“The play can and should be performed in accordance with social distancing, as the aging couple insist on living six foot apart even in their own home and wear masks and gloves whenever their young provider visits.

“Also, the piece is not too long, which allows gatherings of a shorter period.

“The play may seem a bleak reminder of these challenging times, but it does contain a lot of humour, music and song too.”

Kevin added: “The future of live performance remains in the balance.

“Even with the necessary social distancing imposed, the viability both financially and artistically of any production going ahead will have to be monitored at every turn – certainly until a vaccine or successful therapeutic has been found.

“Giving theatre-goers and performers the confidence to congregate again is a challenge.

“It will take a lot of creative imagination, as well as careful and pragmatic safety measures.

“I have always been a lover of multimedia, which might be one of the ways forward. In fact, one of the shows destined for Edinburgh this year, also bound for the Regis Centre afterwards, was a Goth Musical pantomime, an alternative version of Cinderella which incorporated a small cast combined with three narrators on film. This multimedia approach might be a way to provide safety for the performers whilst giving full-blown entertainment for all.”

If you are interested in helping stage Kevin Kevin’s play, get in touch via [email protected]

“Theatre, in its varied forms, such as multimedia, can provide valuable lessons learned from the past and reassuring visions of hope for the future.

“Whatever fate awaits, I hope to be a part of it.”