Variety gets virtual as show goes on for theatre company

Coronavirus can’t stop creativity.

At least that’s the message from Avocet Theatre Company, which has created an entire theatrical production - The Virtual Variety Show - while in lockdown and adhering to social distancing rules.The Banbury-based group is staging an entire show despite not being able to meet in person for a single rehearsal. The production is streaming on the group’s website whilst also raising money for the NHS.

The concept for The Virtual Variety Show came after the group was forced to postpone rehearsals for the pantomime Robin Hood. Believing that theatre and entertainment were important now more than ever, Avocet Theatre Company decided to give itself an ambitious project - create an entire variety show, from home, while raising money for the NHS.

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Avocet Theatre Company members past and present have reunited for this special film and the group have held rehearsals online.

Avocet's production of Snow WhiteAvocet's production of Snow White
Avocet's production of Snow White

The Virtual Variety Show consists of more than 30 brand new acts all filmed while in lockdown. The cast members have sent in videos of their acts in order to create a full-length video production and these solo acts will be seen alongside group numbers and sketches that have been filmed and edited together. These new acts have been interspersed with clips from previous productions and the group promises that the film is one of the most ambitious projects they have ever undertaken.

“This has been an incredibly challenging but rewarding task,” said Ben Coleman, the chairman and artistic director of Avocet Theatre Company. “The opinion of Avocet Theatre Company is that theatre is more than a building. It is something that can be created anywhere. And so, while theatre venues may be closed, the show must go on, as the old saying goes.”

More than 30 performers, ranging from young newcomers to experienced adults, are taking part in the project.“We have created a number of sketches and parody performances that fit with the current climate. There are also some beautiful musical and dance performances - not to mention some surprises along the way - which once again show the incredible talent we have.”

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This is not the only project Avocet Theatre Company has been working on during the lockdown. It has also launched a Taskmaster challenge on Facebook, which has seen nearly 250 people join in. Ben said; “We were inspired by the television show Taskmaster on Dave. The idea is that we set tasks for people to complete whilst in lockdown, they upload their entries and we choose a winner. We are almost on our 40th task and it’s been so heartwarming seeing families being so creative and inventive whilst in lockdown.”

The public can join in by searching for ‘Taskmaster (Hosted by Avocet Theatre Company)’ on Facebook.The Virtual Variety Show will be available to watch on from May 16 until June 20.

Viewing is free but donations via are encouraged, with any profits being split with the NHS.