18 May 2021

Pandemic Players put COVID centre stage in Titanic 2020

| Michael Weaver
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Two ladies rehearsing for play

Members of the Pandemic Players rehearse for their performance of The Titanic 2020. Photo: Supplied.

The Pandemic Players’ production The Titanic 2020 may not re-enact Kate Winslett’s famous scene aloft on the bow of the Titanic, but it tells a dramatic tale nonetheless, exploring issues of importance to Canberra’s ageing population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ACT Council of the Ageing (COTA) received funding from the ACT Government’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Innovation Grants Program to stage the play with the young-at-heart actors working with local theatre professionals from Rebus Theatre to annotate their experiences of lockdown under the COVID-19 restrictions.

COTA ACT CEO Jenny Mobbs said Canberra’s seniors have suffered most from COVID-19 and associated restrictions.

“As such, the project has explored feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as marginalisation, and looked at the wellbeing of older Canberrans, methods of healing and building resilience,” Ms Mobbs said.

“Our partner, Rebus, has led the participants through a series of group theatre workshops and exercises incorporating ways of using theatre and art to stimulate healing and provoke social change with a focus on recovery.

“The final performance will share with other Canberrans how marginalisation, loneliness and isolation have impacted the mental health of older Canberrans,” she said.

Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson said Pandemic Players is a fantastic initiative to create opportunities to unite and discuss the real issues that affect our community.

“We all deserve to have opportunities to come together and make sense of our changing world. The great thing with Pandemic Players is that it tells the stories happening in our community, helps people understand some of the challenges faced by older Canberrans, encourages discussion and unites us through art,” Ms Davidson said.

Members of the Pandemic Players in rehearsal

Members of the Pandemic Players during rehearsal for their debut performance. Photo: Supplied.

Cast member Maxine said the pilot project was her way of supporting the arts sector that was hit hard during the pandemic.

“It was difficult for me because we are still in the pandemic, and it is hard to process something when you are still in the middle of it and it’s not resolved,” she said.

“Not being about to visit families when we had major emergencies was very difficult. I had a husband and grandchild in the same week fighting for their lives in two different hospitals, but because of COVID, we were not able to see them.”

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Fellow cast member Megan said the play puts the pandemic into perspective for seniors.

“I really loved it. I have been a bit cautious because I hadn’t been involved in theatre for a long time but I loved it,” she said.

“Ali and Pip from Rebus Theatre provided a safe environment to explore our feelings and experiment with different ideas and ways of expressing those feelings.

“We heard the experience of people who lived in different situations, including residential care during the lockdown. While this is a bleak topic, the project allows us to bring out some of the lighter moments.”

Director Ali Clinch and assistant director Katherine Berry invite you onboard The Titanic 2020 for a playful evening exploring what it meant to be a senior in Canberra in 2020. The free event is at the Hughes Community Hall on Wednesday (19 May) from 6:30 pm, but tickets should be booked through The Titanic 2020.

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