See you in the virtual bar! Digital dramas capture buzz of theatregoing

Sound Stage, a season of eight new audio plays, will enable audience members to connect with each other virtuallyA new digital initiative has been lau

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Sound Stage, a season of eight new audio plays, will enable audience members to connect with each other virtually

A new digital initiative has been launched to recreate the social experience of theatregoing, complete with a virtual bar where audiences can chat over interval drinks. Sound Stage, presented by Pitlochry Festival theatre and the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh in collaboration with Naked Productions, will have an opening season of eight new audio plays by writers including Mark Ravenhill, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Roy Williams and John Byrne. There will be one premiere a month from March onwards.

Pitlochry’s artistic director, Elizabeth Newman, said that it would enable audience members to connect with each other during the isolation of lockdown and give them the sense of a special event that is missing from many theatre streams. For people who live on their own, she said, the theatre is “a place to go and see other people – to have a story but also to talk about what they’ve just experienced”. The buzzy atmosphere in a venue before the play starts and the social interactions with front-of-house staff are recreated online. Audiences buy a ticket, visit the Sound Stage website and are taken to their virtual seat or to the bar, where a host enables them to chat with others, before the bell warns them the play is about to begin. Afterwards there will be post-show discussions with the creative team. Newman said that an integral part of theatregoing for her has always been catching up with friends and having conversations about the play. Sound Stage intends to bring that interactivity and sense of community online.

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