Exciting online festival for Mercury Theatre

The Mercury Theatre Colchester, in association with the University of Essex, Signals and the Lakeside Theatre is thrilled announce the line up to their exciting new Mercury Online Festival. Taking place over the weekend of 21st-23rd August 2020 the festival celebrates the creativity of artists and theatre makers from the East of England, providing them with a unique opportunity to virtually showcase some of their very best work.

Following an open call application process that received over 120 submissions, the curation panel have programmed their 3 day festival to include digital artworks, new writing, animation, comedy, virtual dance sessions, interactive online gaming, and more.

The Festival kicks off on Friday 21 August with a special YouTube streaming of Off The Twig theatre’s The King Who Wanted to Live Forever, and an interactive Zoom performance of Super Stories with City Actor’s Up, Up, Up and Away! for little ones and their families. The day continues with fun tech workshops and virtual video gaming sessions for young people with Colchester based digital learning specialists Signals, followed by an online exploration of renowned mixed media artist Sian Fan’s virtual works in tryptic and a thrilling live Zoom performance in Cracked Lens Theatre Company’s Cyber Game. Day 1 concludes with new writing from Colchester Playwright, Nicola Werenowska in a Zoom reading of new work Behind Doors, followed by innovative digital performance, Global Enhancers, presented by East 15 Acting School’s third year students, exploring the dystopian side of physical human/technology integration.

Saturday’s line-up includes an online performance of Roald Dahl and the Imagination Seekers from acclaimed theatre makers, Get Lost & Found, and an exciting Animation Hour, showcasing 3 new animation shorts from talented East based artists via the Mercury’s website. In the afternoon, Limbo-tech present Duality, an experimental motion captured live dance experience, and Lo-fi Theatre preview their new one man binaural headphone theatre piece, Wavelength. Revellers can then tune in via Zoom to catch Lumenis Theatre Company’s new writing, Bright Azzuro Sea, in the evening, and end their Saturday on a high with a short sketch comedy session from cabaret trio, The Dots.

Rounding up the Festival on Sunday, audiences can begin their daily online adventures with a YouTube streaming of Get Lost & Found’s must see children’s show, Mischief and Mystery in Moomin Valley, before heading over to Zoom for a midday spoken word event presenting live work from 3 home-grown poets, Gail Egbeson, Natascha Graham and James McDermott. Discover what theEssex Steamettes, a group of young female coders, have been creating in the virtual world in an exciting show and tell, and enjoy 2 new short films from talented East-based creatives. Then, spend the evening with Colchester company Packing Shed Theatre, as they present new audio-drama Holding On, where the automated voice for a helpline has a surprise in store for an unsuspecting caller. Audiences can end the festival with a giggle with a comedy double bill from two of the East’s best up-and-coming comedy acts streamed on the Mercury website.

Plus, audiences can head to Lakeside Theatre’s website throughout the festival for their Emerging Artist Shorts, showcasing creative works from the University of Essex’s student base.

All of the events are free to attend and engage with, however audiences and participants are encouraged to make a voluntary donation during or after the festival, with all proceeds going to the artists involved. Of the 21 main events presented over this unique digital offering, over half of the performances or workshops are presented via Zoom. Like most live shows, these sessions have a limited capacity, so spaces must be booked in advance.

The Mercury’s Creative Director, Ryan McBryde said: “While theatres remain dark, the Mercury remains determined to find new ways to support and champion the work of artists across our region. We hope our online festival will introduce our audiences to some really exciting new companies and works. We’re so proud to be presenting this incredible digital programme ready to stream directly to your screens. I urge you to check out the full weekend’s line-up, there really is something for everyone!”

To find out more about the Mercury Online Festival, check out the full line up, and book onto the Zoom events, visit www.mercurytheatre.co.uk from Monday 10 August.