Sarah Berger – actress, director and founder of The So & So Arts Club – has launched a brand new and innovative playwriting festival, in collaboration with LIVR – the world’s first virtual reality content platform dedicated to theatre. The Capsule Theatre Festival will have a distinguished panel of judges, including actors Kevin McNally, Phyllis Logan, playwright Rex Obano, writer Ming Ho, director Simon Naylor, Artistic Director of Hackney Empire Yamin Choudury, producer and Artistic Director of the Boulevard Theatre Rachel Edwards, and agent Lucy Fawcett, as well as executives, distributors, producers, composers and creatives from the world of film.

Alongside the theatre festival is a short film festival for films of all genres, inventively filmed in lockdown – this festival is produced in collaboration with actor and writer Callum McGowan, with a judging panel of executives, distributors, producers, composers and creatives from the world of film. Film submissions can be made here. All shortlisted films will be available to view free online, and a public screening planned for later in the year.

Submissions are now being sought for plays that can be eventually performed in a socially distant way in a black box theatre space, no longer than 60 minutes total length, and with a maximum cast of 4.

The deadline for submissions is 2 September 2020, and the winners will be announced by the end of that month, hopefully allowing for rehearsals, performance and filming during the month of October (situation permitting).

The judges will choose ten pieces of work, with the first four being offered the chance to rehearse and perform in the So & So Arts Club’s new fully equipped black box theatre space in West London (that had just opened and was about to host its first production when lockdown came into force in March this year). In addition, Sarah Berger and some of the judges will help mentor and creatively produce the pieces, assisting with help in kind with dramaturgy, casting and finding directors.

These four productions will be filmed in the space by the team at LIVR. LIVR currently offers an on-demand fully immersive 360° VR experience that transports viewers at home into live performances. However, for The Capsule Festival finalists, LIVR will use a brand-new technology, which will mean that audiences at home can watch the shows in 3D without the use of VR headsets.

The filmed shows will then put up online with a box office system, enabling people to buy a ticket to watch. All monies raised from the box office will go back to the creatives involved in the project. The remaining 6 selected plays will receive full feedback and will be uploaded onto the website for sale to prospective companies for future production.

Sarah Berger said, “We are not looking for pieces about Covid 19 but writing that uses the new restrictions in an inventive way and uses the added bonus of being filmed in 3D inventively. For example, you might make the camera one of the characters. You are free to adapt a play you have already written using the new mixed medium of theatre and 3D film. We look forward very much to seeing how we can develop a new hybrid performance which is tailor made for our current situation but keeps the idea of interactive theatre alive.”

The film panel of judges consists of David Wilkinson (Guerilla Films), Denise Parkinson (TI / Future Media), Dom McKvey (DOP), Gary Phillips (Moviehouse Entertainment), Christopher Barnett (composer), Michael Ryan (GFM Films), Natalie Brenner (Metro International Entertainment), Faisal A. Qureshi (freelance producer, editor and screenwriter), Helena Mackenzie (Film London), and Tom Abell (Peccadillo Pictures).

Sarah Berger is an actress, director and producer and the founder of the So and So Arts Club www.thesoandsoartsclub.com. Her long career as an actress has included three seasons at The Royal Shakespeare Company, two USA and one World tour. Her other performing credits include five West End Shows and numerous national tours ranging from Noel Coward to Alan Bleasdale. She has appeared in countless TV series most notably, ”Call the Midwife” “Murphy’s Law”, “New Tricks” The Green Man”, “The Scarlet and the Black “, “Doctor Who”:, “Casualty” and Holby City. As a director Sarah has directed six premieres of new plays, “Last Confessions of a Scallywag “at the Mill at Sonning, The Long Road South” at the Kings Head, “Lulu 7” at the Drayton Arms, “American Venus” at Fredericks Place, “The Marvellous Adventures of Mary Seacole” London and Edinburgh Festival, “The Mythmakers” in London and NYC and the British premiere of “Love Loss and What I Wore “ by Nora Ephron at the Mill at Sonning. Other directing credits include: “Theatrica Domestica”, “The Country Wife”, “The Heidi Chronicles “,“It must have been the Shoes”, “Build Lilli”, “Canvas”, “Leno” and numerous dramatised readings of new work. In May 2018 Sarah directed a bi-lingual production of Macbeth at the Academic State Theatre in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan. Her 2018 revival of the Momma Golda ran at The Kings Head Theatre in London.

Sarah founded the So and So Arts Club in 2013 and since then has produced 90 rehearsed readings of new work, two repertory seasons of new plays and five international festivals, the most recent of which ‘Women and War Exodus.” ran for a month in July 2017.

Sarah has been nominated twice for the Guilder Coigney International award honouring women artists from across the world who have made a significant contribution to world theatre. In 2018 she was a finalist in the Global Women awards.

Callum McGowan is an actor and writer whose notable works for stage include the award winning No Place Like Hope, and being a part of the Arcola Theatres Writing Programme with his American epic We Be Slumbering. His latest piece, Wildlife will be staged in London (when theatres open) next year.

For 1142 Productions, a film production company he launched with director Will Akbar, he has worked to deliver a variety of scripts which focus on diverse storytelling.

McGowan’s most recent acting work includes Sky One’s Jamestown, war drama Instrument of War and comedy It Came From the Desert. His latest film, Kat and the Band is awaiting release.

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