North East Elysium Theatre is touring a post-Covid trio of productions.
During lockdown the company cancelled its live performances and instead streamed a series of ground-breaking Covid-19 Monologues – one-person performances that reached tens of thousands of people online and received awards and accolades in the process.
Elysium released another six original monologues online last month, and followed this with a tour of Ibsen's A Doll’s House, which is part-way through a 10-venue tour of north-eastern theatres.
The company will set off again in November to tour nine more venues with Reiver – Tales from the Borders, an original production adapted from one of the Covid Monologues, by north east playwright Steve Byron.
Elysium’s co-founder Jake Murray, who is directing all of the company’s productions, believes this proves the pandemic made Elysium even stronger: "A lot of theatre companies have closed during Covid, but the pandemic hasn’t killed us. We have emerged stronger than ever.
"When we went into the pandemic we were taking shows to maybe three or four venues; now we are touring two shows to up to 10 venues at a time!
“We had some amazing responses to the online content we put out over the past two years – so much so that we have decided to continue our series, despite theatres being open again."
The new Covid-19 Monologues include an array of stories by writers from diverse backgrounds, including three from the North East. Several look back on people’s experience of the pandemic or take place during it, while others look forward to the future.
A Doll's House features two of Elysium’s founding members – Hannah Ellis Ryan, who found fame as villain Hannah Gilmore in Coronation Street in 2018, and Danny Solomon.
Reiver – Tales from the Borders, takes audiences back 400 years to when the Rivers - lawless families who lived off violence and extortion - terrorised the Anglo-Scottish borders.
Three interlocking stories paint a portrait of a world in which corruption and evil force ordinary people to take a stand. It will visit a mixture of historical sites, rural communities and major theatres across the North East and Cumbria.
Elysium was formed in Durham in 2017 and is currently the only theatre company in the north east touring a mixture of premieres, classics and new writing. Monologue The Moth has been selected for 24 international film festivals and three, grouped together into the Covid-19 Trilogy, won Best Monologue in the Thornhill Theatre Space Online Festival 2021.
Elysium is also offering live interactive workshops, Q&As and online resources for both of its upcoming tours. More information on these from Amy Mitchell here .
Artistic director and company founder Jake Murray is the son of the late Braham Murray, one of the founders of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. He is the winner of two Manchester Evening News Awards and an Edinburgh Festival Fringe First. His production of Romeo And Juliet at the Royal Exchange starred the young Andrew Garfield - now an international star for films including Spider-man.
More information on Elysium, tour venues and tickets here