Tag Archives: marcusromer

Telling the stories of the Coronavirus pandemic with #Covid19Threads

12 May


Covid-19 threads is a series of short films derived from twitter threads that have appeared during the Covid-19 pandemic. These shorts are designed to sit back in the same social media space that the authors originally located them in.

As part of Mutiny, our new company, Simon Poulter, Sophie Mellor and I have been working on making these over the last few weeks.

Covid 19 Threads.

The first film is by Dr Arnav Agarwal and is voiced up by British actor Oliver Alvin Wilson. Dr Agarwal movingly describes his experience of looking after a man suffering from Covid-19 and the act of bringing his family in to say final goodbyes over an iPad.

The second film is based on the experience of Drew Penkala and is voiced up by British actor Raphael Sowole. Poignantly, in the film, the main character faces up to the fact that following his Grandpa’s death he will not be able to attend the funeral and will be forced to watch via a live stream link.

The third Covid-19 Threads film is written by Dominic Minghella, emotionally poised between his own survival from the virus and the death of someone close to his neighbour. Voiced by Alan Mehdizadeh

In episode 4, nurse Amelia Hennegan describes her sad experience of holding the hand of a dying man at the height of the pandemic (April 2020). Her frustration bursts out from the tweet as she asks people to ‘stay the fuck home’, as the lockdown starts to fray. Voiced by Claire Lacey.

Many people have been unable to visit or see their loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the fifth film in the Covid-19 Threads series, a man’s mum is in her last moments of life at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. A health care assistant, just known to him as Julie, holds her hand as she passes over. A sad and true story from the UK 2020 lockdown. This episode of Covid-19 Threads is voiced by Natalie Gavin. Words by Glenn Mitchell.

In the sixth film of this series, one of the saddest stories of the pandemic is told via a tweet by Francina Hyatt. Both of her parents died during the pandemic and she expresses the pain of that experience, not being able to hug or console her family members. The story is voiced up by Liverpool based actor Keddy Sutton. Our thanks to Francina for her permission to use her words. The film charts the period from 1945 to 2020, the course of the lives of her parents.

In the seventh film, Dr Hamid Manji tells the story of his experience of Covid-19 working in Milton Keynes University Hospital – the fear on the faces of young people as they struggle for breath in the ICU and how the medical teams cared for loved ones, many of whom did not make it home. Dr Manji’s words are voiced by Sacha Dhawan. This episode of Covid-19 Threads was especially commissioned by Milton Keynes Islamic Art and Culture Organisation (MKIAC).

We are deeply grateful to the original twitter authors who have given us permission to use their material and to the actors who have come forward to voice them up. Covid-19 Threads has been remotely produced by Mutiny during lockdown. We would also like to thank Sandy Nuttgens for post-production sound. The entire project has been made on goodwill and the conviction that these stories need to be recorded and shared. All work on Covid-19 Threads has been voluntary.In the seventh film, Dr Hamid Manji tells the story of his experience of Covid-19 working in Milton Keynes University Hospital – the fear on the faces of young people as they struggle for breath in the ICU and how the medical teams cared for loved ones, many of whom did not make it home. Dr Manji’s words are voiced by Sacha Dhawan. This episode of Covid-19 Threads was especially commissioned by Milton Keynes Islamic Art and Culture Organisation (MKIAC).

Mutiny was born in 2019, formed by Sophie Mellor, Marcus Romer and Simon Poulter. The new company has the simple aim of bringing fresh performative art and theatre works to new audiences using whatever medium or combination of media it takes. We are accepting new commissions working from our UK base, comprising of the Mutiny HQ in London, Mutiny Corner Studios in Plymouth and Mutiny Shed in Cambridge.

If you have a story then please get in contact at info@mutiny.org.uk

Follow on twitter at @MutinyProjects and #Covid19Threads


#ArtsFightBack – an update

10 May


I want to make a new project. I want to make it with people who want to make it too.  I sent out a tweet on Friday night asking if anyone was interested in helping out. You know, writers, directors, actors, artists, makers, helpers across the whole spectrum who might want to lend a hand.

I sent the message out on the 8th of May, the day the UK election results became clear.

So far over 200 people have offered help and would like to know more. Thank you for getting back to me with such strong and positive reactions.

This is not about asking the question what next? more like what now?  – what can we do now – creatively.

So, I have contacted Stratford East and in a truly supportive way they have said we can have a space there to kickstart the conversation. I will check and post on here when we have confirmed a date. We can also have a get together in Yorkshire in York – and we can have a space there too.

If anyone wants to suggest or offer a space elsewhere please let me know.

So thanks so far for the responses and offers – I will post on here and on the usual sites. If you want to drop me line here is my email – MarcusRomerUK@gmail.com

The picture at the top? It is one I took in Buenos Aires when I was making a show there. I think it shows that most things are possible…

observe / assist / do #blogpost #theatre

26 Jun


The job I do here as Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre has clearly been informed by my previous work. This came home to me at a recent meeting on our trip to Pilsen when a theatre company raised the spurious point that directors should only be allowed to direct once they reach the age of 35, as before that they couldn’t possibly have the right experience level… After hitting the roof and then coming back down to my chair I outlined my thoughts on this, and to what extent I disagreed with them.

For those of you who don’t know I have worked in theatre for quite some time. Only when I started out – when I said I am going into theatre it meant scrubbing up, wearing green and performing – only this time live operations. On people. In operating theatres… I trained as a dental surgeon and have worked and perfomed surgery in this way. During our training and subsequent working practice the schedule was – You Observe the first operation. You Assist on the second one, and on the third one You Do it yourself. Admittedly this was still in an environment with support and assistance should you need it. After all lives were at stake.

So as a result of this we entrust our lives into the hands of doctors, surgeons, and paramedics who are in their twenties. They are doing this now. How come many organisations don’t do this with their trainee directors? …Because this is what we still do at Pilot Theatre on our productions. Our Associates work as an observer, then assistant and the third show they make themselves. After all this is not a matter of life or death – and as we all know – the only way to learn.

Which is why in Pilsen, Tom Bellerby (23) made the show, he last assisted on Romeo and Juliet and prior to that he observed The Fever Chart in his final year at Central It is why he is directing Letter to the Man from the Boy at Edinburgh this year for Pilot Theatre too. He will also be staff director on tour for our Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner this autumn.

So I said this very calmly and then sat down.

Observe / Assist / Do …it doesn’t just work for theatre…

Lessons in life – part 37

24 Sep


When speaking on a panel and you are constantly being referred to as a man in a suit – stand up and let them see your jeans and leather Chucks.

A lacklustre review can be allowed to spoil your breakfast, but it must never be allowed to ruin your lunch.

Remember that however many times a piece is rehearsed there will always by at least one time during a run when an actor has to visit A and E.

You do not need to ask for permission to have an idea and to make things happen. Ever.

Remember when you put your head above the parapet people will sling stuff at you. But the view is better and clearer from up there.

If you never say no to invitations, what is the value of your ‘yes’ worth ?

An artist is not a different type of person, but every person is a different type of artist.

With all training I use my medical background of – observe one, assist on one, then do one. If it is how we train surgeons it is more than applicable for directors…

That is all


The Stage / Features / A meeting of minds

15 Jul

A meeting of minds

Published Thursday 15 July 2010 at 13:51


Setting up the Skype Chat with Sir Ken Robinson for Shift Happens Photo by @documentally

Artistic director of Pilot Theatre Marcus Romer talks about the highlights of this year???s Shift Happens event at the York Theatre Royal, and the unique challenges and opportunities that face the sector as the line between the arts and technology becomes increasingly blurred

For the last three years, I???ve curated an annual conference focussing on the opportunities that technology has to offer the arts.

Last week, Pilot Theatre???s third annual Shift Happens event took place at York Theatre Royal and, this time, the focus was on arts, learning and technology.

We had 27 speakers take to the stage to share their insights, stories, and provide provocations for discussion and debate.

Our 300 delegates and participants were able to hear a eclectic range of speakers. Keynote speeches were delivered by Ken Robinson – author, and educator, Alice Greenwald from the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York, Jonathan Harris, the artist from Brooklyn, John McGrath from National Theatre Wales, DK from MediaSnackers and Lyn Gardner from The Guardian.

We were joined by Andy Field from Forest Fringe, Clare Reddington from Watershed and David Sabel from NT Live at the National Theatre. Meanwhile, we also heard from green arts organisation Julie???s Bicycle, as well as Mind the Gap, Slung Low, Body>Data>Space and my own Pilot Theatre.

Using new technology, we were able to provide Skype links across the world – Robinson spoke to the conference live from LA.

There, he shared his thoughts about the shifts in the cultural landscape, explaining that we are now entering a period where we need an educational revolution in how we create learning opportunities so that young people can survive and thrive in a changing world.

???What is coming down the track is more important than what has gone before,??? he explained and also made clear that we need to have a global responsibility, as we connect, communicate and share creative ideas.

Indeed, the common theme at Shift Happens was that we need to take a longer world view about how and what we are creating, and more importantly, why and for whom.

In his keynote, DK talked about literacy in this new landscape, saying that we all need to be able to ???learn, unlearn and relearn??? to keep us moving forward and why sometimes it is beneficial to look to the sides first and learn from other sectors and how they are navigating their way too.

The live connection to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the address by its director Greenwald was very moving.

The ability for us to be able to hear and question her live across the Atlantic from a theatre building built before the French Revolution was testament itself to the fact that shifts do happen.

Going forward, it???s important not to just ask what can the technology do for us, but what can we do with the technology. So, social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are key to the evolution of the sector.

Gardner raised this point, as she talked about the changes since last year???s conference, when there was much scepticism about Twitter.

She pointed out that now, more than ever, in a tough funding climate, we need to connect as a sector that is grown up, joined up and more open.

She also highlighted the importance of online networks and sites such as artsfunding.ning.com which has grown to more than 400 members in three weeks.

The future of arts funding was, of course, on people???s minds. But, refreshingly, the main themes of the event were about wider creative thinking and the longer view.

The arts world needs to think about the big shifts which will affect us all – climate, global financial stability and how we find new ways to connect and communicate – and what the arts??? response to all this is. We need new models and ideas and, as a creative sector, we are well placed to be able to do this.

That is not to say that all that is new is necessarily better, but as a sector we must embrace the possibilities, and realise that these new platforms are not just for marketing and another way to ???push??? your product.

They are about a genuine two-way engagement and conversation. They have immense creative potential and we have some exciting artists pushing these boundaries.

As Field said: ???Bring art and technology together to dream stupid, impossibly grand visions of what the future might look like.???

Over the course of the event, people were able to discuss the conference using social media site Twitter.

The use of the #shifthappens hashtag meant that people could share nuggets, links and pictures inspired from the live talks. Again, amplifying, remixing and sharing the ideas that surface.

We shared with more than 280,000 people those two days, and made more than two million impressions with people via Twitter – many of whom were following the conference remotely in other parts of the planet. This would have been unthinkable only a few years ago – and shows just how new technology can help people engage with us, as a sector.

As Herb Kim, director of Codeworks and Thinking Digital said – the challenge for all of us is ???go big or go home???.

For the full list of talks and links please visit us at: shift-happens.co.uk, shifthappens.ning.com, artsfunding.ning.com, pilot-theatre.com



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Greetings from Wexford Opera House for #TFconf

17 Jun

So here I am in the amazing leather seated Wexford Opera House for the Theatre Forum Conference

I am speaking tomorrow on Digital Technology and it’s impact on Theatre

So I better get busy listening and joining in with the conversations

A long day from an early start from Stansted via Dublin then a two hour drive

So onwards, but inside now for the opening on a most beautiful day here in Ireland

Til later….

Marcus Romer
Artistic Director
Pilot Theatre
York Theatre Royal
St Leonards Place


I will be speaking at Theatre Forum Conference in Wexford 17/18 June

7 Jun
Check out this website I found at theatreforumireland.com

The session I will be running will be focusing on new ways of communication and connection and how we can utilise emerging platforms to creatively develop and engage with our work and each other

ITC Training Day

21 Apr

Things I have learned on my trip to Inverness

18 Apr


1 The A9 is the most beautiful and most dangerous road I have ever driven on.

2 There is still loads of snow as you can see from the photo of Aviemore

3 Taking the Bose Soundock and iPod with a remote control worked really well for the workshops

4 Take more warm clothes at this time of year to Inverness. It snowed this morning. Or maybe it was hail. Or very cold volcanic ash…

5 The Eden Court Theatre is a really excellent building with new spaces and a great public foyer and the best view of the River Ness from all aspects

6 Take more Pilot Theatre leaflets next time

7 Running three workshops of three hours each in a day and a half is very tiring and I have lost my voice. A bit.

8 Always join in when there is a ceilidh. Sooner rather than later. Or it might get messy

9 Go for the full Highlander breakfast every time

10 Remember that seven hours is a long drive. Take snacks and water. And some more. As you may have to wait while they recover the overturned bus.

11 Keep the workshops fluid and adapt as you go. And have some good new one liners.

12 Make sure that you make it clear that you will not drink Irn Bru. Be firm about this

13 Or eat Tablet. It doesn’t make human sense.

14 When someone asks for a whisky, make sure you get the order right. And don’t forger the water.

15 Use the A66 and drive home in low cloud on top of the Pennines. It feels like you are on the moon.

16 When you get home, write things like this down when you brain feels like linguini.

17 Accept the new Facebook and Twitter requests from new chums you have made

18 Keep thinking of plans to be able to take a show up there.

Nine hours of workshops in Inverness…

18 Apr

I have been running three 3 hour sessions up here at the Eden Court Theatre…

Am exhausted! The space and renovation here is brilliant though. The whole theatre with an integrated cinema, two performance spaces seating 800 and 350 plus two dance studios.

Here the co-ordinator, Caroline, from PromoteYT is doing the mornings briefing to the delegates and participants.

News to report – stovies for tea, with outcakes and a cup of tea – and kippers for breakfast.

The groups are made up of drama directors and YT facilitatotors. Oh and there was a ceilidh last night, which after my days work I was happy to be an observer until the end and final dance, when if I didn’t join in I would have been probably attacked by men in kilts. So there you go

Final workshop today then the 7 hour drive home. Oh and it’s raining and cold,and the rain has ash in it….