comes home different
behind the scenes
Amid new concerns for the theatre industry, stars of Theatre and TV join forces in Mr Theatre Comes Home Different, a short film aimed at raising money for the Theatre Artist Fund.
As the theatre industry faces another period of catastrophe due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the importance of a film made earlier this year to celebrate Theatre is renewed as the team behind it make it available to stream over the festive period. In April 2021, stars of Theatre and TV came together to perform Pulitzer-nominated playwright Will Eno’s Mr Theatre Comes Home Different, a play that celebrates theatre’s uniqueness and reminds us of the power of live storytelling. Filmed over two days using the Lyric Hammersmith stage, the film premiered online in May to raise money for the Theatre Artists Fund. Now, with awards under their belt, the team behind the film have released it for streaming online amid calls for government support for theatres and artists affected by the latest round of closures at this busy time of year.
“As the rise of infections increases and the government leans on people to behave cautiously, theatres, and all who work for them, are yet again staring into a very uncertain future,” says Producer and actor Michael Cusick. “When we made this film, our aim was to remind people of why theatre is such a celebrated artform and to encourage audiences back after a very difficult time for the industry.” Audience confidence had been on the increase across the sector and by the end of November 2021 tickets sales were looking promising when compared to pre-pandemic levels: On a knife edge: Charting Covid’s impact on ticket revenues. However, recovery was by far from certain. Fellow producer Matthew Pitts-Tucker adds, “Now, as theatres are forced to close at this busy time of year, we wanted to add our voices to the calls to ensure large parts of this sector don’t collapse in the face of tumbling attendance and postponed performances. Theatre is worth protecting and government assistance is needed”.
The film’s director Adam Jackson-Smith explains, “We were thrilled to get the support of Will Eno who adapted the monologue for screen and also of Rachel O’Riordan who generously offered the Lyric Hammersmith stage and beautiful Matcham auditorium which frames the piece so perfectly.” The team were further supported by the cast who gave their time to the project, including Samantha Womack, Shelley King, and Jenna Boyd among others. “There was such a great response from the cast who were all keen to highlight the need for support for theatre artists in light of the impact of the pandemic on the industry.” Adam has been a long time fan of Will Eno’s work and felt that Mr Theatre Comes Home Different, although written over a decade ago, spoke to the unique essence of theatre, “Will encapsulates what makes theatre so special, magical even, through a simple 11 minute address to the audience.”
The film has won Best Lockdown Film at the Screen Culture Film Festival 2021 and Best Short FIlm at the Screen Power Film Festival 2021 and is available to view online free of charge at mr-theatre.com. Jackson-Smith continues, “As theatre is under threat again, this piece resonates and I hope reinforces audiences' commitment to theatre and its important place in our cultural landscape.”
The team welcomes donations to the Theatre Artists Fund through their website which supports theatre freelancers affected by the pandemic.