Catching up with Tramshed Theatre

Here’s our latest update from our friends at Tramshed Theatre.
Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

Kathleen Paintin, TramShed Member & TramShed Voice

When TramShed’s Adult Company performed their physical theatre piece in the 2019 Christmas Show ‘All Together Now’ to Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’, no-one knew how prophetic that song would be. We had no knowledge of the juggernaut COVID-19, the pandemic that was hurtling towards us in the new year that would change all of our lives.

TramShed had been a massive part of our lives for thirteen years and when the national lockdown closed everything down including TramShed, it was devastating. Zac and the team knew they had to keep the company connected because, for some members, TramShed was the only social activity of the week, some would be ‘shielding’ and completely isolated.

Through an Arts Council Emergency funding COVID-19 grant, the TramShed online programme arose like a phoenix from the ashes. I’m ashamed now to think that my thoughts were of all the challenges that would present.  Many members were cognitively, physically and spatially challenged so how would that work? What about all the different broadband speeds and access? We would all be at home on different hardware, PCs, laptops, tablets, iPads and phones!

An even bigger challenge was for risk-takers Zac and the team of practitioners, who had to be even more creative, innovative, and challenged than ever before to devise the ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ project. This became an amazing timetable of a variety of weekly activities using the online platform Zoom. The summer online production created on Zoom and streamed on Facebook Live to 156 homes, was wonderful, clever, witty, slick and amazed the wider community.

Going from a stage or large performing space to a square on a computer screen was an interesting experience for everyone.  The normal rules of communication changed. Conversations became completely shared so eye contact was less important, turn taking had to be managed or things got too noisy. Social rules had to be redefined. No, you couldn’t be in bed, or in pyjamas, or eating a sandwich, brushing or braiding your hair. Over the weeks these things all got resolved and members found in sessions they could still have fun, play games, improvise, act and express themselves even in that small box, on that small phone, which continues to amaze me.

The later projects on lockdown have been very cathartic for practitioners and members alike. Being able to talk about and share individual experiences of the restrictions, what we all gave up, how difficult life was, what TramShed meant to us all was humbling and very emotional.  The thought that it will all be captured to reflect on in better times is wonderful.

And the future? With the rest of the country and world, we wait to see how life as we knew it can get back. Whatever happens, TramShed practitioners and company are changed forever.  But that will have to wait, there is a blog to write, a podcast to record and a script to learn for the new online production! THE CHALLENGES OF TRAMSHED!

Positively Speaking

Tina Murray, Senior Arts Practitioner

Perspective – ‘look through’ – Perspective is the way we see something.
I would like to take this opportunity to put a positive spin on the whole lockdown experience.

Those of you that know me, will know that most of my days, pre pandemic, were 100 mph. Dashing from one activity to the next, always on the last minute!

Initially when the news was announced that we would have to cease all future workshops with immediate effect, I was, like most people, filled with worry and trepidation about what the future would hold for our TramShed family.  Concerned for the members, volunteers and staff who thrive on routine and look forward each week to seeing friends and colleagues for socialising and working towards our next project.

Most importantly, thanks to Zac and the Arts Council England we were fortunate enough to be awarded emergency funding which meant we could learn how to deliver workshops online and continue to provide a much-needed link to our TramShed family.  Through the use of the internet our sessions could go on…….. What is this Zoom we are hearing about?  It turns out it is a fun way to stay in touch and work towards a new project ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow.’

Suddenly my worries about the future of TramShed became less and with it my mad dashing began to ease off!  My commute was significantly different! I had to negotiate tripping over the dogs, hurtling upstairs and wrestling with my banner, all while saying a silent prayer that the internet connection would behave for a whole session!

Essentially my priorities began to change.  Having less travel time allowed for new and additional session to be offered to new members and volunteers – New connections were made with members from other ‘Shed’s’ and further afield through the beauty of cyber space.  

Time – Often my nemesis – now through the weird introduction of a global pandemic I have been gifted the luxury of time! Time to reflect, time to prioritise, and the opportunity to appreciate.  To make sure that I do not take things for granted, to consider more carefully my priorities and make decisions about what is important to me and how best to spend my precious time.


Find out more about TramShed Theatre


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