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The Derbs: Television Workshop Launch Their First Online Play

13 April 21

The Derbs is a new online play from The Television Workshop, the acting school that launched the careers of Vicky McClure, Jack O-Connell, Bella Ramsay and many more. This month they showcase their first online play The Derbs. We put some questions to cast member Charlie Mackenzie-Barrow about it...

This play is going to be viewed entirely on zoom. What made the group come up with that idea?
There weren't many other options! This particular group was very careful, I am in the 'extremely clinically high risk' so I needed to be extra careful. Plus this meant we were able to involve the Workshop members from Salford. 

There are two types of audience tickets available. Can you explain what’s going to happen to those who buy ‘front row’ tickets?
The idea with the 'Front Row' tickets is to encourage a more live and theatrical experience. We obviously can't be in the space with the audience but we wanted to find a way to communicate and get some kind of feedback from the audience, whether that be through a separate zoom for the audience or another way. In the world of the play, The DERBs is a new computer game in development, and the Front Row audience are 'cast' as a focus group to give feedback to the creators of the game...

It’s the first play to be done by both the Nottingham and Salford branches of the Television Workshop. How significant is that as a landmark?
I think it's wonderful that we have been able to work with the Salford Workshop members. We have felt quite separate for years and one of the good things that has come from the pandemic is we have been able to connect with them more and now it just feels like the normal workshop and we are all together. I hope we work together a lot more!

How have rehearsals for the play gone? Presumably they were all done online too?
Yes most of the rehearsals have been done online. Earlier in the process we were able to have some distanced rehearsals whilst connecting with the Salford group online. 

Who wrote the play? How was the writing process?
All of the people involved have had influence on the story but the main writers were Tim Evans, our director, and Justine Moore who also plays MIKE.

Anyone in it we might have seen on TV?
Most cast members have some professional experience, but many are new to the Workshop main group this year. Justine Moore received great acclaim for an award-winning performance in short film Bellmouth, and you'll be seeing Safia Oakley-Green in forthcoming feature film The Origin and short film Requiem alongside Bella Ramsey.

How have things been for Television Workshop over the last year? What’s changed due to covid?
Television Workshop have definitely taken a hit. Unfortunately, because of the type of work we do it has been limited so we have had to adapt and learn a new way of working which Workshop are great at doing. All groups have film, stage and radio projects ready to go- some postponed from over a year ago- and we're looking forward to bringing these to audiences over the next few months. 

Buy your tickets for The Derbs here

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