In mid-May, some 8 or 9 weeks into lockdown, I made a decision. I wasn’t going to spend all my time ‘firefighting’; having endless conversations about keeping the company afloat, waiting for this crisis to pass.
We had to be able to do something creative and, for us, that always means live performance. At that point we had no idea when any kind of performance would be possible, but I started to think about what we could do that didn’t necessarily need a theatre space.
Having a hunch that outdoor theatre would be the first thing to re-start and, recognising that all our work emerges out of spontaneity and a certain kind of controlled chaos, I hit on the idea of reworking our wild family sketch show Get Happy for the outdoors, which the Barbican Centre wonderfully commissioned back in 2013 and which we have revived a number of times since, notably at the International Comedy Festival in Beijing in 2017 where it was brilliantly received by a family audience of all ages.
This idea felt like a turning point. And we’re thrilled to say that we have now started rehearsals prior to performances as part of this year’s Greenwich + Docklands International Festival.
Staying Live will be the clear mantra behind everything we now try and do over the remainder of this year in the face of closed theatres and cancelled events.
As our revival of Get Happy demonstrates, our drive is to provide people of all ages with opportunities to experience live performance in some shape or form and, given the continued closure of our theatre buildings, we will search high and low for unlikely spaces to ‘create’, and to engage directly with communities.
All of our activity will be about Staying Live, and bringing people together; whether it is through Get Happy, or joining up with our friends from Kneehigh in Cornwall to experiment with new ideas, live, in the room, or facilitating practitioner workshops in London, in person.
At the heart of our drive of Staying Live is also a heart-felt commitment to provide employment for theatre freelancers who remain in a desperate situation. We care about our community of Idiots; all those amazing artists who have worked on our shows previously, and all those who we have yet to work with and who we want to meet.
Theatre is a live communal experience and, in these extraordinary times we are living through it feels vital that we recommit to that idea.


Paul Hunter
Artistic Director, Told by an Idiot