Tea With The Tali, keeping theatre alive

By James Smith

5th Aug 2021 | Local News

In May the Talisman Theatre in Kenilworth launched a new performance channel under the title Tea With The Tali.

This initiative enabled their members and members of the artistic community to exercise their vocal cords and perform during the coronavirus pandemic, through ten-minute recorded audio performances.

Such has been the success of the 'Tea With The Tali' productions, the Talisman has decided that even when live performance is possible again, the online short plays are likely to continue.

As lockdown began back in March, Rod Wilkinson, member of the Talisman Theatre, was looking for new ways for performances to continue for fellow members and people in Kenilworth. He initially thought about doing online plays, but there were logistical as well as financial limitations which prevented this.

Rod then received an email from 'Smith Scripts' who were temporarily giving out free scripts to groups across the world, providing that they donated to the NHS.

He downloaded his first script 'A Plan' by Max Porter, and spoke to Dik Thacker and Richard Crump, two of the Talisman's technical team who said that it was a viable option to do some audio recordings. The audio series Tea With The Tali was born.

The following week was due to see a live event in Kenilworth to mark VE Day which was understandably cancelled. Peter James (a member of the theatre) had already produced a script with memories of the Second World War from local people.

Given the success of A Plan, three senior and three junior members of the Talisman were invited to to read out these memories from 'Kenilworth Kids in Wartime,' the recording proved to be equally as popular as the first.

Since then, the productions have gone from strength to strength and the Talisman team, including the Artistic Directors; Steve Smith and Steve Duckham have helped to organise a piece every week since then. Thus far 22 different scripts have been used, with an audience of over 7,500 listeners.

One of the key successes of the project has been a rejuvenation within the Talisman Theatre company.

Rod says "what is particularly rewarding about this new format, is there is a whole group of members who have not been able to 'tread the boards' for a while, who are now able to perform in these audio recordings. It has also been a wonderful additional performance channel for our youth group."

Tea With The Tali has expanded beyond the theatre as well. Actors from other theatre groups have been able to record. Students from Kenilworth School, local youth groups, and Side by Side have all also taped their own productions.

Such has been the success both inside the theatre community and out, Tea With The Tali is unlikely to end once the theatre is able to reopen.

"We are open to ideas, and if someone has a short performance idea, we would love them to talk to us about it. We now have a channel, which has a wide appeal, and we want people to be able to use it.

"The audience are loving it, and come back every week. We are being contacted by actors and directors who want to be involved. The scripts have been excellent, and Smith Scripts has been a fantastic help."

Rod has put together a set of guidelines for directors for audio recordings, and this is available from the Smith Scripts website. As are potential scripts to anybody who would like to get involved, but does not quite know how.

"Previously we would never have envisaged doing this, but as a result of Covid we have found a channel that has enabled us to connect with, and involve a lot more people.

"We have members from across Warwickshire; it doesn't matter that it is made in Kenilworth, it is accessible to everyone."

The most recent production was a brand new, premier piece by a Yorkshire write, Luke Harriot, who describes himself as having autism. 'Six Modern Monologues' was his first script and was exactly the sort of new writing the Talisman is looking to encourage.

The recording of this can be found embedded at the top of this page.

If you would like to learn more about the Talisman Theatre, or see the full list of Tea With the Tali productions please follow this link.

If you would like to contact the Talisman, to find out how you can get involved, then please contact them by email at [email protected].


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