Taking Scaredy Cat to Sydney in pandemic times, from Ryan Mahony, Production Manager
13 January 2021
Touring is very rarely easy. Whether you are touring regionally, nationally or internationally there are always unique speed bumps in the road. This is a lesson that anyone who tours with theatrical production learns very quickly. Over the six years that I have spent specialising in touring, I have encountered everything you could imagine – from cancelled flights, accommodation and shows, to touring party members losing passports or being denied entry into countries. Yet despite all of these experiences, there is nothing that could have reasonably prepared anyone in our industry for the impacts that a global pandemic would have on how we operate.
The start of 2022 has seen us recommence national touring and encounter everything that COVID-19 could throw at us along the way. The touring preparations and preproduction for our season of Scaredy Cat at the Sydney Opera House began about six months ago while the show was still out touring Tasmanian schools. Usually you would invite your scenic designer in to see some rehearsals and work with the team, but that part of the process was our first COVID casualty. Charlotte Lane, who adapted Bryony Anderson’s set design for the stage, found herself in continued lockdowns in Melbourne and was unable to travel to Hobart to work on the design, so everything shifted to Zoom and some carefully mailed hand-build set models.
The next challenge we faced was the small task of getting the show to the Opera House. With freight timelines blowing out, the best solution was packing our new van to the gills and driving it onto the Spirit of Tasmania and straight up the Hume highway to Sydney – a casual 1,597km. Our people were just as complicated to transport: of ten performers and creatives due to travel to Sydney, eight had flights cancelled or delayed, and one trip was aborted entirely.
As the season continues we face more challenges that are surrounded by a lot of unknowns. The ongoing boom of COVID cases in Sydney means we are operating as safely as we possibly can in a strange environment. A cast that would normally be getting to enjoy everything Sydney has to offer are currently weighed by thoughts of ensuring they dine outside and don’t attend crowded places. We’re enormously grateful to the Sydney Opera House for forging ahead despite these roadblocks, and for their support.
However, sitting in the auditorium for our first day of Scaredy Cat performances reminded me why we make this effort. Children of all ages (and their parents and grandparents) laughed, screamed, discussed and sat spellbound as they watched Scaredy on stage – Sydney and Tasmania are clearly not so different after all.
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