Caroline Bryant, Artistic Director of Futures Theatre, tells us all about their first foray into podcasts Fully Amplified, and what’s next for the company.
Your first Futures theatre podcast series launched this week, what is it all about?
Hearing women and non-binary people honestly in conversation with one another about specific shared lived experiences; sometimes painful, often funny and always personal. In response, the writer of each episode created mythical and lyrical monologues that flow throughout the podcast.
What made you decide to make Fully Amplified?
The initial impetus came as we had to stop our direct creative engagement project with women survivors of domestic abuse due to covid and at the very point where there was increased suffering due to lockdown. We create theatre that reveals marginalised stories and advocates for change. With no theatre productions on the horizon, a podcast was a fantastic, accessible and creative medium to transfer our working model to. I’d wanted to do a podcast series for years and covid was the unexpected opportunity that allowed us to work with regular artists and discover other brilliant established and emerging female and non binary artists.
Who did you work with on the project?
We commissioned six writers, including Ava Wong Davies and Abi Zakarian and a talented new writer who came through our engagement program. 35 participants discussed, challenged and celebrated who they are. Nicola Chang designed sound while also being a participant in the episode talking about the experience of East Asian women in the UK since covid. We went into studios with 6 actresses who beautifully and empathetically performed the monologues, including Sharon D Clarke’s stunning performance in the Black Mermaid episode. Reduced Listening has been a fantastic producing partner and generously shared their expertise and passion for this project.
How have you found the process of making podcasts over making live theatre? What are the pros and the cons?
I’ve loved expanding our knowledge and overcoming the challenges of working and recording online. It’s been a joy to discover the expansiveness of working with this brilliant medium. I feel cheated by not being in the room (yet) with the wonderful and varied participants in the conversations. With a theatre play, participants would be invited into rehearsals to see how their worlds had translated into a production, which is very immediate and powerful feedback. It’s been an interesting ‘opening week’ as we sat in the office and started receiving emails, social media responses and comments and watching the stats for downloads. Very different from feeling an audience in the auditorium and hearing responses. One of the most significant pros is reaching a broader diverse audience through podcasting, complementing our productions and targeted engagement work.
Will you be carrying on with this strand of your work in the future?
Yes. I plan to create a podcast series in partnership with regional theatres, artists and women 50+ across the UK, asking what happens now? Traditionally women have been minimised as they grow older. I want to discover what happens when freedom beckons and we’re not ready to retire but live it up and finding freedom in this era.
What’s next for Futures Theatre?
Our next production is a remount of Offside, inspired by iconic past players and celebrating today’s women footballers as they continue to break boundaries and fight for gender equality. We hope to tour nationally before next summers Euros. We’re returning shortly to deliver our creative engagement program in person, which has been running online since the start of covid with marginalised women. Finally, we’ll celebrate the Fully Amplified series with participants and artists and see what other work grows out of this series.
Fully Amplified is available for free on all major podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify – for more information see the Futures Theatre website www.futurestheatre.co.uk/fully-amplified