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BMDS moves online with comedy, Widow of Warwick

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After a year’s absence, theatre has reopened its doors in Bermuda.

Well, kind of.

The Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society is offering a comedy to anyone with internet access.

Widow of Warwick is about Nora and Alex, two women trapped in separate rooms of their new home which may or may not be haunted. With no way out they call a medium to “cleanse” the building and set them free.

“It has everything you would want in a virtual performance – frustration about technical difficulties, Covid, lockdowns, countless funny moments and even a ghost,” said Jenn Campbell who performs alongside Carol Birch, Nicola Flood and Liz Knight in Steven Carl McCasland’s play.

BMDS’ last live performance was Wine, Women and Song in March 2020, the month before Bermuda went into lockdown. That it would be a year before another show was possible was something that they didn’t consider. Widow of Warwick continues the society’s aim of making theatre accessible to residents – despite the challenges of Covid-19.

The beauty of an online show is that every viewer always has “the best seat in the house” said Ms Campbell who explained that, aside from an interest in keeping community theatre alive, there was also the real need to raise money for Daylesford, BMDS’s Dundonald Street home.

“The money that keeps it going is from bar sales, ticket sales and memberships and two-thirds of those things are pretty much gone, and have been for the last year,” she said.

The amateur society approached “quite a few” playwrights it had worked with asking for a show that screen well on Zoom. New York-based Mr McCasland, whose play Little Wars was put on by BMDS in 2016, was the first to come back with a definite yes.

“The only thing we said was not negotiable was that it had to be funny – considering the circumstances, we wanted something light-hearted,” Ms Campbell said. “Things are bad enough right now. We have to give people something that make them laugh; we can’t be too deep.

“He was incredibly enthusiastic. He came down and directed Little Wars for us and he fell in love with Bermuda and he’s been here on several occasions since, which is why he was able to write the play. It takes place in Bermuda and has quite a lot of Bermuda elements to it because he’s familiar enough with the island.”

Widow of Warwick is billed as a “rehearsed virtual play”. The initial thought was to stream it live but “way too many technical difficulties” popped up during rehearsals. What’s now on offer is a recorded Zoom call, led by Mr McCasland from New York.

“He directed it in the way any director normally would: can you say that this way? Can you turn this way when you do that?” Ms Campbell said.

“It was a bit of a long process getting schedules together and dealing with technical aspects. We had to bring Ptix in on several occasions; we’d never done anything like this before. How do we sell the tickets? How are people going to get the link? There were a lot of conversations over several months and it took longer than we thought it would because it’s not the same as presenting a play in person.”

Added to those challenges, was that the actors had to record the scenes at home where, inevitably, further technical issues came to the fore: “the lighting there isn’t quite right; can you close that window, open those blinds?”

Costumes were pulled out of closets; the actors had to do their own make-up. Backgrounds had to be staged.

“We’re calling it a rehearsed virtual play reading but there is some acting going on there,” Ms Campbell said. “It’s not just four people sitting there reading.”

Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased at www.ptix.bm/widowofwarwick. Viewers will be issued a code about an hour before the performance to log in to watch.

The group applied for and received a temporary fundraising license hoping that viewers will donate additional funds to “help keep BMDS afloat”. Make a donation here: www.ptix.bm/bmdsdonations.

It has teamed up with La Trattoria and Two Rock Wine for discounts on food and drink to enjoy with the show, which continues on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 4pm.

Theatrical production going online: the BMDS team involved in Widow of Warwick are left to right, top row, Jenn Campbell and Steven Carl McCasland; middle row, Carol Birch and Nicola Flood; bottom picture, Liz Lanin Knight (Photograph supplied)
Jennifer Campbell in a past show (File photograph}
Widow of Warwick playwright Steven Carl McCasland
Jenn Campbell (right) in a past show at BMDS with Paige Hallett (File photograph)

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Published March 15, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated March 14, 2021 at 3:46 pm)

BMDS moves online with comedy, Widow of Warwick

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