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8 Unique Ways to Enjoy Theatre and the Arts While Self Isolating

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Published March 26th 2020
Enjoy museums, theatre and art despite at home for lockdown
With theatres, museums, concert halls and art galleries closed due to Coronavirus, some innovative ideas have emerged to help everyone self-isolating to still be able to enjoy culture and the arts.

birmingham museum and art gallery, round hall, culture virtual tours
Still enjoy museums and exhibitions from your sofa


Here are some of the best ways to ensure you don't miss out on the best art and culture entertainment, even if you are stuck at home during a Covid-19 virus lockdown.


1. 24-hour ReConnect global DJ marathon

This worldwide electronic music festival featuring some of the most famous DJs will be live-streamed through Twitch at 8pm London time on Friday March 27 and lasts for a whole day until 8pm Saturday March 28.

Organised by Beatport and broadcast through Twitch, the music marathon features performances by 24 artists.

DJs include Carl Cox, Bonobo, Nina Kraviz, GRiZ, RFS DU SOL (DJ set), A-Trak, Nicole Moudaber, Chris Liebing and Nora En Pure performing for a worldwide audience.

Carl cox, DJ, Reconnect dance festival
DJ Carl Cox is among those involved in the ReConnect festival


Find the ReConnect festival by following #globalreconnect on Twitter and at Twitch.

Along with enjoying the music festival, the live streaming event will also support charities as viewers can donate money towards the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organisation looking after frontline health concerns and the AFEM Members COVID - 19 Hardship fund.


2. Series of new plays by acclaimed playwrights to be streamed live

Award-winning theatre company Headlong with Century Films has announced that it is to work with celebrated playwrights and stream new short digital plays to people's homes from April.

Actors will perform them while in self-isolation as part of Unprecedented: Real Time Theatre From a State of Isolation.

unprecedented, live theatre, headlong, century films
Tune in from home to see new plays for Unprecedented


It will include a series of new works from playwrights including the writer of Ink and This House, James Graham, Prasanna Puwanarajah and Sami Ibrahim.

The theme of the plays will be to explore our rapidly evolving world and what the enduring legacy of this historic episode might be.

Once written, the work will be curated and directed by Headlong and Century Films and performed by a cast of over twenty UK actors using digital conferencing technology, and combining live and pre-recorded material.

Working closely with several directors and a team of freelance creatives, Headlong and Century Films will publish the series online in April for audiences to stream directly from their homes.

This House, James Graham, Birmingham Rep, playwright
Playwright James Graham was behind the hilarious This House


Playwrights taking part are below, along with the works they are famous for:
April De Angelis (My Brilliant Friend;The Village)
Josh Azouz (The Mikvah Project; Buggy Baby)
Deborah Bruce (The Distance; The House They Grew Up In)
John Donnelly (The Pass; The Knowledge)
Clint Dyer (Death of England)
Jennifer Haley (The Nether; Sustainable Living)
Sami Ibrahim (Two Palestinians Go Dogging; Wind Bit Bitter, Bit Bit Bit)
James Graham (Ink; QUIZ; Coalition; Brexit: An Uncivil War; Labour of Love)
Charlene James (Cuttin' It; Tweet Tweet)
Jasmine Lee-Jones (seven methods of killing kylie jenner)
Duncan Macmillan (People, Places and Things; City of Glass
Rosmersholm; 1984; Lungs)
Nathaniel Martello-White (Torn; BLACKTA)
Chlo Moss (This Wide Night; The Gatekeeper)
Prasanna Puwanarajah (Nightwatchman; Patrick Melrose; Doctor Foster)
Tim Price (Salt, Root, Row; The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning).


3. Video tours of London's Royal Academy of Arts

Since the public can't go to the Royal Academy, they are beaming their exhibitions to living rooms through online video tours.

Explore the current exhibition of insomniac artist Lon Spilliaert's artwork from your sofa. The artist is renowned for his celebrated self-portraits to dreamlike scenes of the North Sea coast.

leon spillaert, art, royal academy of arts, London
Explore the atmospheric art of Leon Spillaert online - without the queues


You can also listen to podcasts that include Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie reading the winning submission to the Royal Academy of Arts(RA) Pin Drop Short Story Award.

Find links at the RA website or sign up the free RA newsletter to get regular links to podcasts and news about videos and other virtual events.


4. Andrew Lloyd Webber taking requests on Twitter

Andrew Lloyd Webber has been doing his bit to cheer up everyone self-isolating using his talents on the piano.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Twitter, self isolation, arts and culture
Relive your favourite theatre songs with Andrew Lloyd Webber


His regular tweets from @OfficialALW See him taking requests and performing the most popular songs from his extensive repertoire.


5. National Theatre screenings to your home

Some of the most acclaimed National Theatre productions will be rescreened from Thursday 2 April via the National Theatre's YouTube channel for free as part of the National Theatre At Home scheme during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Each production will be free and screened live every Thursday at 7pm GMT, it will then be available on-demand for seven days.

The first production to be broadcast is Richard Bean's One Man Two Guvnors featuring a Tony Award-winning performance from James Corden on 2 April.

National theatre, James Corden, one man two guvnors
Watch James Corden's acclaimed performance again


Other productions to be streamed include Sally Cookson's stage adaptation of Charlotte Bront's Jane Eyre on the 9 April, Bryony Lavery's adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island on 16 April, and Twelfth Night on the 23 April featuring Tamsin Greig as Malvolia in Shakespeare's classic comedy.

Further titles will be announced soon and alongside the streamed productions, there will also be interactive content such as Q&As with the cast and creative teams and post-stream talks.


6. Explore Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, its image database and meme challenge

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is one of nine venues across Birmingham Museums Trust that you can enjoy virtually with a tour across its galleries. On top of that, everyone can access sensational pictures to cheer up their day in the Trust's extensive online image database.

Featuring everything from Pre-Raphaelite drawings and prints to historical views of Birmingham and the Midlands, you can access the image database here.

painting at Birmingham Museum and art gallery, photo Alison Brinkworth
Enjoy the incredible art at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery


For a virtual reality experience, take a 3D virtual tour of the museum and art gallery that includes all the permanent galleries.

Be greeted by Sir Jacob Epstein's Lucifer statue in the Round Room, take a closer look at the Staffordshire Hoard, explore the modern and contemporary art galleries, or marvel at the Victorian architecture of the Industrial Gallery.

Janine Eason, Director of Engagement at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: "Our doors may be closed for now, but we are still there for our visitors. Art and culture can help us make sense of the world and often gives us an escape.

"We hope we can bring some joy and distraction to everyone who needs it during this concerning time."

Birmingham museum and art gallery, meme challenge, art database
Get involved with the Birmingham meme challenge


Even more fun and interactive is the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery meme challenge on Twitter that you can get involved with here.

While the Birmingham Museums YouTube channel has videos highlighting the history behind various objects and artwork.


7. Watch parties on Facebook with jazz, classical music and more

Facebook launched Watch Party facilities in 2018 as a new way for people to watch videos together in real-time and interact with one another around them in the same moment. So they are coming in particularly handy during this period of self-isolation.

Music is being broadcast as part of a series of pre-recorded performances from Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall along with other European concert halls through the venue's Watch Party sessions.

xhosa cole, jazzlines, birmingham, watch party, town hall symphony hall
Xhosa Cole will be performing jazz at a watch party


Birmingham's free Friday Jazzlines Gig from Symphony Hall will be broadcast to Facebook and include saxophonist Xhosa Cole, who won BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018.

As a saxophonist, flautist, composer and producer, Xhosa has collaborated with a wide range of world-class musicians and composers along with playing in the Jazzlines Ensemble. His performance is being screened at 5pm on Friday April 10.

Other performances include classical music from Lauren Zhang at 5pm on Monday 30 March and a lunchtime organ music session with Mie Berg at 1pm on Monday 6 April, plus many more that are set to be announced in coming weeks.

Keep an eye on the watch parties through the Town Hall Symphony Hall website here.


8. Vogue and other free online dance classes by DanceXchange

Enjoy free online dance classes at DXtra Online that are led by DanceXchange and its regular class tutors.

DancXchange leads the way in making and showing great dance in theatres and is adapting while venues are closed and people are isolated at home.

There will be 30-min Beginner/Improver classes from Monday to Friday via Instagram Live ranging from ballet to salsa, commercial, vogue-ing and contemporary styles.

vogue class, danceXchange, arts and culture from home, birmingham
Learn to vogue through Birmingham-based DanceXchange


They will run initially until 3 April via Instagram Live but could be extended after that.

Lucie Mirkova, Head of Artistic Programmes at DanceXchange, said: "Taking part in a live online dance class is the perfect way for people to feel connected during the UK quarantine."

The programme is currently:

MONDAY / Ballet/ 6.30pm / Led by Sebastian Loe
An introduction to the basics of classical ballet, the concepts of core stability, turn-out, flexibility, posture and placement.

TUESDAY / Salsa / 6.30pm / Led by Helen Calcutt
An authentic Cuban-salsa dance class that combines strong dance technique with all the zest of Cuban rhythms and styling, in a fun and energetic way.

WEDNESDAY / Commercial / 6.30pm / Led by Michael Brandon
Personalised choreography that is full of flare, strong dynamics and attitude. For beginners who want to learn, progress, have fun and be pushed.

THURSDAY / Vogue / 8pm / Led by Jason Andrew Guest (In partnership with Unmuted & Shout)
Learn to vogue and bring it to the runway. Learn the fundamentals of the vogue and the ballroom culture it comes from. Strike a pose and join DX for an introduction to voguing.

FRIDAY / Contemporary / 6.30pm / Led by Laura Vanhulle
Explore the basics of contemporary dance by improving coordination, strength, body alignment and flexibility. A fun class learning the basics, full of positive energy, focus, and fun!

Classes will run on Instagram Live and be available for 24 hours after the class for participants to enjoy in their own time. The timetable of online classes can be found here.

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Why? Keep entertained with the arts despite self Isolation
When: Anytime
Phone: various including DanceXchange 0121 667 6730
Where: Online from your home
Cost: Free
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