Take history, literature, drama, art, creativity, wrestling, Shakespeare, things not just Shakespeare… And stir well…

aka Lockdown Part 2

The answer to the questions is 42. Oh wait, not that question. The answer is A Bit Lit.

I met Andy Kesson at the Royal Shakespeare Company when I was “resident film-maker” and he was working with the Company on some non-Shakespeare plays coming to into the Swan Theatre. We had a meeting with other folk from press and marketing teams and a lot of ideas were thrown around about films we could make, there was enthusiasm and creativity… sadly little support and no time! So most of the ideas were shelved.

But the twitterverse is a small-ish place and I saw him posting about a project to explore creativity, theatre, arts, wrestling (we’ll come to that) and other things to help keep discussions going in lockdown. He was looking for ideas and tech support. So I got in touch and we had new enthusiastic conversations and I jumped aboard as some kind of producer / consultant / geek…

The idea was to be informative but not stuffy, fun, irreverent (“You had me at irreverent” to misquote a film or two), about art and education, open to all ideas, connecting academics to theatre makers and other practitioners, actors and writers and directors and obviously all done remotely. I met Emma Whipday, Callan Davies and Mat Martin over emails and eventually the new normal of Zoom as the idea started to move to planning the website.

A Bit Lit started just as a channel on YouTube as behind the scenes Mat built a lovely website and logos and things started to come together. Meanwhile I worked out how Zoom recordings could be improved for later use. The answer is not that much. But you can bring down some exposure, battle the blues and yellows of outrageous auto-white balance and try to steady the mics! It was all being recorded on laptops to start with no webcams or using phones etc. There will be update on that I suspect!

Theatre and literature have always been part of my life from first experiences of school plays to working at the RSC and acting in various forms over the years so a lot of the topics were like coming home – and then taking that knowledge up to another level entirely! A level you seldom get access to outside of academia. One of the joys of working at the RSC was building on my knowledge of drama, history, acting etc and the privilege of meeting and working with great actors and directors but also writers and visiting historians – or going out with a company to see objects and places that related to the work they were doing. The actors got a lot out of it, connections between museums and drama and times and spaces were made. A Bit Lit feels very much like a continuation of this idea.

It’s been a great and highly entertaining source of new and exotic knowledge, also a way to meet at least virtually new people but also learn some new skills. Without being able to film I wanted to add some things to films where I could. I’ve never been a fan of just dropping images over people, wallpapering to cover edits. So I started to play. I’m am in no way a Photoshop / After-Effects expert – I have one of those on speed dial! I can do the basics of namestraps, a bit of general sticking words on stuff…

… But for this I was able to take images apart, summon demons, have witches fly and bring a storm (and faerieland) into Emma’s office and talks! The Stay at Home Shakespeare series allowed me (and thankfully Emma trusted me) to play a lot! In a fairly lo-tech Monty Python way, because it was “easy” but also funny and allowed ideas to be off the wall when needed!

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