BWW Interview: Q&A with Schelaine Bennett on LOCKDOWN HEIGHTS
Keeping SA entertained and keeping herself busy, actress Schelaine Bennett chats to BroadwayWorld South Africa about life under lockdown for herself and in her IGTV series, LOCKDOWN HEIGHTS.
BWW: As a full-time creative, how has this pandemic affected your day-to-day working life?
Schelaine: Like many others, I'm not able to go to work because work involves being in contact with many other people. So I'm staying home and doing my bit to flatten the curve.
BWW: Your series on Instagram, LOCKDOWN HEIGHTS, is one example of how artists are finding their way around lockdown - what other ways do you see the arts adapting, or want them to adapt?
Schelaine: LOCKDOWN HEIGHTS has been a saving grace. It has allowed us to keep busy, keep being creative, and has pushed us as performers. I am now several different departments from hair & make-up to wardrobe to lighting to director of photography to the actor which has been really fun and interesting. I've seen some of my peers do online monologue challenges which have been great to watch; especially the classics! And then others doing online workshops to better their craft. The arts have definitely taken this time to explore and grow.
BWW: How did the concept of LOCKDOWN HEIGHTS come about so quickly?
Schelaine: The president announced the lockdown and within 24 hours my friend, Ayanda Mckayi, sent me a message asking if I'd be busy during the lockdown. I wasn't going to be and so we had a long conversation the next day - him explaining the concept, execution, etc. - and hours after that we had our core cast on a Whatapp group ready to get the show rolling.
BWW: Can you give a brief summary of the series? What can audiences expect from LOCKDOWN HEIGHTS?
Schelaine: The series is based on a handful of individuals living in an apartment block who find themselves in the nationwide lockdown. The show follows their current reality which involves drama, scandal, love, and human beings just trying to get through this uncertain time.
BWW: Are you writing LOCKDOWN HEIGHTS as the lockdown progresses, or do you have a rough idea of where you want the story to go?
Schelaine: We have a magnificent writing team (who also are some of the actors on the show). They brainstorm from story arch to story arch and send the rest of us scripts on a daily basis. They do have an idea of where the story is going, but try to incorporate any significant happenings in the world as they occur.
BWW: Can you see opportunity for doing more IGTV series or similar in the future?
Schelaine: I would absolutely love to! I've actually always wanted to but time never allowed for it. I do hope more artists explore the platform to develop their own work.
BWW: What impact do you think our current situation will have on the future of theatre, film and television?
Schelaine: It is definitely teaching us to be even more resourceful, to be open to experimenting with how we work and where we showcase our work. It's also teaching us to open up to each other as artists and asking for or offering help and sharing skills which I think can only strengthen the community. I do hope the financial implications of our current situation don't follow us into our future, but overall I think we have something to look forward to.
BWW: And to end on a more personal note, how are you keeping busy during lockdown when you're not doing LOCKDOWN HEIGHTS?
Schelaine: Eating. I am eating, cooking, reading and blessed to be spending time with my family which is the real luxury of all this.
Photo credit: Darcell Kopman
Catch LOCKDOWN HEIGHTS on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/lockdown_heights_sa. New episodes out everyday at 8.30pm.