In late 2020, Sheffield Hallam Acting & Performance students collaborated across time zones with students from La Trobe University in Australia to produce an innovative audio theatre piece with Sheffield/Melbourne production company Doppelgangster. This exciting work was showcased at Off the Shelf Festival of Words (Sheffield) and the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
Led by Doppelgangster, the group of 13 students used a private social media discussion group, and other digital platforms, to produce Bad Reputation, an audio show inspired by Three Skeleton Key (1937) by George Toudouze: a mesmerising tale of three lighthouse keepers on an isolated island.
Doppelgangster involved the students in the creative process as researchers, writers, and eventually as performers. Tom Payne, acting and performance course leader at Sheffield Hallam, and co-director of Doppelgangster said: “With theatres closed we decided to explore new ways of creating, using online technology.
“For students at both institutions, it’s a chance to develop high-level employment skills, including those associated with digital communication and collaboration whilst also a chance to add prestigious names like Off the Shelf and the Melbourne Fringe to their CV.
Maraya Ashworth, acting and performance student at Sheffield Hallam said, "Working on this project has taught me that I can collaborate with others without having to be in the same room. It has also proven that with some knowledge of how to use a recorder, lots of energy and commitment to the role, I can push myself and produce great quality work.
"It has also opened my eyes to how accessible it is to work with people all over the world. I started Bad Reputation apprehensive of how possible it was to make a radio play under these circumstances. I finished it full of inspiration and confidence to continue being creative and performing even during a global pandemic."
Richard Delroy, acting and performance student at Sheffield Hallam said: “It’s been a really great, and quite challenging experience. Working with students from Australia has been fantastic, it’s so wonderful to see all of their ideas and creativity.
“It’s been a totally different way of working, switching out the rehearsal room, to completing tasks for the production individually in my bedroom. It’s certainly not something I’m used to, but it’s a gratifying change. It’s nice to know that we still have the ability to make a production, and in many ways it’s offered new opportunities that wouldn’t have presented themselves if everything had been back to normal.
“Debuting at two festivals, one on the other side of the world - you can’t really ask for much more than that can you?"
Bad Reputation premiered in serialised form over the course of the Off the Shelf Festival of Words in October 2020 and then ran for two weeks in November at the Melbourne Fringe as part of a curated programme by La Mama, Melbourne's home for independent theatre. To find out more about Bad Reputation and other Sheffield Hallam Acting and Performance projects visit this page.
Documentary photography by Becky Payne. Top Image Maraya Ashworth. Second Image Richard Delroy.