How Northumberland theatre group Mortal Fools has continued working during lockdown

The show must go on – a Northumberland theatre group has taken this to heart and continued to engage young people during the coronavirus lockdown.

By Ben O'Connell
Thursday, 7th May 2020, 6:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th May 2020, 6:33 pm
Mortal Fools’ Ensemble Young Company prior to the lockdown.
Mortal Fools’ Ensemble Young Company prior to the lockdown.

Ahead of the restrictions being announced in March, Mortal Fools, an award-winning theatre, drama and creative learning charity based in Prudhoe, had a jam-packed diary.

This included redeveloping a show called ‘Hugging Dogs’ with a cast of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – due to go on tour in June/July, working with young people in Alnwick on their Arts Awards, running weekly youth theatre groups, and gearing up for professional development training with adults, teachers and businesses.

The company was also mere days away from going on a northern tour with Relentless, its newest theatre show from its trailblazing Ensemble Young Company, exploring the pressure-filled and demand-fuelled world in which young people live.

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In line with the Government advice, Mortal Fools took the decision to halt all face-to-face activities, but that was not the end of the story.

CEO and artistic director, Kiz Crosbie, said: “We believe that those people with relationships with young people – personal and professional – have a responsibility to maintain and build those relationships and support them during this period; to enhance their lives now and their lives in the future.

“For us, that meant finding new ways to co-create and connect with children and young people digitally. We felt a similar responsibility to our whole Mortal Fools network.”

Its initiatives have included digital ambassadors, which has seen young people put front and centre of its social media and digital content generation, supporting their skills development and enabling young people to reach out to other young people during this challenging time.

The Coronavirus Time Capsule Project is a week-by-week creative filmed response to the pandemic, through the eyes of young people, supported by Mortal Fools practitioners, while the charity has also started CONNECT, its new programme of training and professional development workshops for organisations and individuals, fast-tracking a digital platform of workshops.

In addition, Mortal Fools has also honoured all freelance contracts, irrespective of project cancellation, and created new strands of work with paid opportunities

“Our priority was to move Mortal Fools from the inevitable ‘survival mode’ – characterised by panic – into ‘reinvention mode’ as quickly as possible,” Kiz said.

“Our series of promises gave us ambition and focus while reassuring our network that we weren’t going anywhere and that we were still here to support; after all, people are the heart of Mortal Fools, our people come first.“Once we’d steadied the ship, as a creative organisation, we did what we do best, engaged our creative brains to come up with creative solutions.”

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