In light of the closure of theatres across the UK due to COVID-19, the Original Theatre Company’s productions of Alan Bennett’s THE HABIT OF ART and Ali Milles’s THE CROFT, both of which were touring the UK, will now each have an online launch performance: THE HABIT OF ART on Thursday 26 March at 8:15pm and THE CROFT on Friday 27 March at 7:30pm. The performances are available to pre-order now. The videos will then be available to watch online until 2 June 2020.
The Original Theatre Company operates with no Arts Council support and relies solely on box office takings. With productions of THE HABIT OF ART and THE CROFT both out on national tours, the immediate cancellations are financially devastating. The company is determined, wherever possible, to meet financial commitments made to actors, stage managers and suppliers who are all dependent on the company to survive the coming months. They therefore ask people pay what they can afford but have a suggested minimum donation of £2.50.
Every penny they make through this online release will go to the people who helped make these shows and who now find themselves in a hugely precarious financial position. People in exceptional financial difficulties can access the videos for free by emailing directly the Original Theatre Company.
In addition to the show, there will also be access to a programme and backstage videos as part of the package.
THE HABIT OF ART explores friendship, rivalry and heartache, the joy, pain and emotional cost of creativity. It is centred on a fictional meeting between poet W. H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten. Bennett wrote it as a play-within-a-play – actors Fitz, Henry, Tim and Donald are rehearsing a play called Caliban's Day under the direction of stage manager, Kay, and in the presence of the playwright, Neil. In Caliban's Day, a fictitious meeting occurs in 1973 in Auden's (Fitz) rooms at Oxford not long before he dies. Britten (Henry) has been auditioning boys nearby for his opera Death in Venice, and arrives unexpectedly – their first meeting in 25 years after falling out over the failure of their opera Paul Bunyan.
THE CROFT is set in the remote Scottish Highlands village of Coillie Ghille, where we encounter three women from different eras whose lives are intertwined by the croft's dark history. In the 1880’s, we have Enid, the last person left in the village - she's resilient, a survivor, who takes in the Laird's pregnant daughter, Eilene. In 2005, Ruth occupies the croft, which she and her husband Tom bought as a holiday home and where Ruth has her affair with local man, David. In the present day, Laura returns with her friend Suzanne to her parent's croft after her mother Ruth's death. They discover the terrifying truth that lurks within the croft. In this bold and haunting play, the present interweaves with the past, as these women search for love in the midst of great danger. As we watch their stories intertwine and ancient tales surface, can the present heal the past?