DESPITE Covid-19 forcing the closure of theatres across the UK over the past year, Carmarthenshire County Council’s theatres have continued to entertain thousands of people every week by embracing digital technology.
Llanelli’s Ffwrnes Theatre has been at the heart of the theatre group’s online endeavours lending itself perfectly to become a studio and base from which to create online shows.
Currently its online channel is attracting almost 22,000 viewers since the first run of digital shows were launched in October.
Since then audiences have been entertained with a number of live shows featuring local artists peaking at over 3,500 viewings in less than 48 hours for one of them.
A vibrant programme of digital shows followed, from online re-imaginings of plays, a streamed story telling series, Christmas and St David’s Day concerts, a virtual firework and light show to a documentary film and even an online art exhibition while its doors have remained closed to the public.
Audiences outside Wales and as far afield as Russia, Poland and USA have also been able to enjoy a taste of Welsh theatre.
Care home residents and staff have also been treated to two free online concerts.
The council’s executive board member for culture, sport and tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said: “While the restrictions on theatres have been challenging, and we’ve had to learn new skills quickly to be able to produce and stream shows online, one of the positives is seeing the reaction from our regular audience who have really valued having the opportunity to have a taste of the theatre at home. But what’s also been rewarding to see is how we’ve been able to provide theatre online to those hard-to-reach audiences such as care home residents, as well as finding new audiences across the UK and the even the world. It will be interesting to explore how streaming can exist alongside live theatre when we re-open so that we can maintain the new audience we’ve found through our online content and continue to provide digital theatre for those who, for many reasons, be it health or busy lifestyles, find it difficult to get to the theatre in person.”
Earlier this year Ffwrnes Theatre took on a new role as a mass vaccination centre to help with the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine, but filming has still been able to take place in the main auditorium which is not being used for vaccinations.
The Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen has also found itself with a new purpose during the pandemic. Over the last three months Sky has taken over the building as a location to film a movie about the theatre itself. Save The Cinema tells the true story of Liz Evans, a hairdresser and leader of a youth theatre in the town, who began a campaign in 1993 to save the Lyric theatre from closure.
To find out more about Carmarthenshire Theatre’s online programme and to see what shows are available now, please visit www.theatrausirgar.co.uk or take a look at the theatres’ social media channels