Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Spotlight On: Abeille Theatre

These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and celebrate the work that people are still managing to generate during these difficult times. In this ‘Spotlight On’ series, we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share what they are up to during these challenging times and how you can be involved.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

Here we chatted with Emma and Bettina from Abeille Theatre- a London based female lead theatre company.

Can you give us a little intro into who Abeille are and what you do?

Abeille Theatre is a female-led theatre company, co-founded by us (Bettina Paris & Emma Rowbotham), that aims to create fresh, innovative, and inspiring new work that, we hope, will strike up a conversation between audiences of all generations. Besides making our own work, we also offer affordable, process-led workshops to creatives within the industry.
What made you want to start Abeille?

After finishing our studies at Arts Educational Schools, we stumbled upon an opportunity to create a new, original show for a festival promoting emerging companies and creatives. We applied with an idea and we were one of the selected few to form part of the event. This opportunity allowed us to create our first show titled ‘Little Big Girl’ and it was after its debut, that we decided we wanted to keep Abeille Theatre going. We knew we wanted to invest our time and energy into making it something bigger, by looking for and creating more opportunities for ourselves as a company.

What are you guys up to during Covid19?

During this difficult and unsettling time, we are doing our best to continue our outreach work through offering online workshops both free of cost and through a Pay-What-You-Can option. We have also taken to our social media platforms to create our ‘Companies Keeping Connected’ strand.

Within this, we have developed our Conversation from Home series. This began around a month ago, with us inviting various small, emerging theatre companies along to join us for a virtual cuppa and a chat, where we discuss who they are and what they do, how they’re navigating their way through these unprecedented times and what we can look forward to seeing them do next, once things begin to settle. We plan to continue these episodes for the foreseeable. This initiative came about for our want to maintain connection and nurture the relationships we’ve made over time, in hope of a better future. Prior to the Covid19 situation, we were in development for our second show as a company. As such, we are also continuing to have regular chats/workshops with the writer virtually, whilst continuing to research and apply for any opportunities that seem fitting for our project to move forward at this time.

How can people get involved?

We are very active on social media so to keep up to date with all that’s going on within the company. To find out more about our workshops, you can also request to join our FB group ‘Abeille Theatre Workshops’, which operates as a specific platform for our workshop community. To tune in and watch all episodes from our ‘Conversations from Home’ series, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel ‘Abeille Theatre. These episodes are currently also available on our FB page. For more updates, regarding future work, as stated above, follow us on our various social media platforms. Besides all that, we’re always up for a coffee and a chat and we love meeting new people, so give us a shout!

When this is all over what do you think the landscape of the industry will look like?

This is a tough one. We believe there is no definitive outcome of what we can expect when this is over. One thing we know for sure is that what we once considered as normal and routine, might not be what we go back to post this situation. We will be forever changed as individuals, as a global community and more specifically as creatives. The landscape of the industry is already changing and adapting given the circumstances and we believe it will continue to change gradually post this situation. However, it is exciting to think about what’s next, what will have changed for the better, what challenges will we face now as we enter this new phase in our lives? Also, it is exciting to think of all the new ideas simmering in people’s heads at the moment, and to look forward to a surge of new work once this is all over. That’s definitely something we’re looking forward to! 

We hope the situation has also made people aware of the different situations’ individuals find themselves in, and the industry will continue to make even more room for people of all backgrounds to share their stories. We’re also curious about being back in the room with people after so long without human contact. We imagine it will be surreal, humbling and joyous all at the same time!

Is there something that’s happened during Covid19 that’s surprised you? For better or for worse!

To be honest, within our work as a company, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the support we’ve received with regard to all that we’ve been up to during lockdown. We’re so fortunate to have ‘virtually’ met some wonderful people during this time, and we can’t help but think maybe such paths wouldn’t have crossed if we didn’t find ourselves in the current situation. Every single individual who’s attended our workshops thus far has been so generous in their energy and our regular sessions have really made a difference to our days. They’ve kept us motivated and eager for what’s next. Also, we’ve learnt so much from the companies we’ve had the pleasure of ‘virtually’ speaking to so far. Each company has provided us with great insight and challenged our perspective on a number of things in their own unique ways. I guess we’re genuinely surprised by the amount of friends and connections we’ve made during this time... that’s something we weren’t really expecting!

If you fancy getting involved with Emma and Bettina’s Workshop or fancy tuning into their conversations from home series follow them on Instagram at @abeilletheatre, on Twitter @AbeilleTheatre and on their FB page ‘Abeille Theatre

Interview written and conducted by Phoebe Hyder
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