BWW Interview: Sophie Joans creator of SCENES ON SCREENS
Looking for a theatre fix during South Africa's lockdown? Sophie Joans has created a wonderful Instagram platform called SCENES ON SCREENS where she and other local performers broadcast live shows from their own homes. Sophie sat with us (virtually) to tell us a bit more about this great initiative.
BWW: Tell us a bit more about Scenes on Screens. How did it get started?
Sophie: I went into quarantine a week before the shutdown. I'd visited our sister theatre in Dubai (The Courtyard Playhouse DXB) and then got a cold, so my doctor sent me into self-isolation as a suspected Corona case. (Got tested later and I didnt have Covid-19.)
That first week was agonisingly boring. After performing at least twice a week and watching live performances 6 days a week, my withdrawal symptoms were terrible.
The name Scenes on Screens came to me, and I converted my stand-up page on Instagram to @scenes_on_screens. At first I twisted the arms of close friends who were writers and comics to join me. After lockdown started, more people got on board.
BWW: What kind of content can people expect to find in these performances?
Sophie: Everything performance. I think of @scenes_on_screens as a theatre online, with a variety each week. We've had monologues and short story readings. Clown burlesque to erotic fiction. Stand-up comics, late-night talk shows, poetry, improv comedy, children's puppet shows, satirical life coaching and magic. I hope the list continues to grow.
BWW: How do people find out about what's on and when?
Sophie: You can check out the What's on Tonight and This Week story highlights, or scroll through our page to see the posters on Instagram.
Wednesday and Sunday Night is always stand-up. Sunday afternoon, we have a poetry reading at 5pm and live music at 7pm.
All other shows are at 7 & 8pm throughout the week.
BWW: Where can people catch the performances? And is there a way to watch them after the live broadcast?
Sophie: I always wanted the space to have an essence of theatre - this only happens once, and you catch it in the moment and then it is gone forever. However the live videos sometimes stall, so we publish them afterwards and they are available for the next 24 hours on our Instagram Stories.
BWW: How did you get involved personally?
Sophie: I lay awake late one night, and it came to me. I had seen that meme about "Sometimes the show can't go on" and I just felt, "No. It can. That's the miracle of theatre, the show always goes on. When tough times - disasters - hit, storytelling prevails."
Since starting, we have had 34 different performers share something. It's grown from me begging friends to try it out, to tons of artists approaching us. We even have some famous people! Yaaseen Barnes was on last week and Nik Rabinowitz was just on this past Sunday. A couple more of South Africa's finest are in the pipelines, but that's a secret for now :)
BWW: How can other performers get involved with putting on a show on your platform?
Sophie: Please please slide into our DMs! People can message me on the page or contact me on WhatsApp on 0713629750. It is fun for the audience to watch, but so special for artists to be witnessed by a live audience who responds in the comments while they perform.
BWW: What's your favourite show/performance that you've had on so far?
Sophie: That is a TOUGH one. Jesse Brook's magic show blew my (and the audience's) mind. The first stand-up show was hilarious. Stand-up more than anything relies on a live audience laughing to help the jokes hit. It was so awkward with dead silence after each punch line was delivered into substitute microphones (spoons, hairbrushes, dildos) - which made it even funnier. Improv with Long Shots members Natalie Robbie and Francis Chouler cracked me up - they did a scene of a First Date on Zoom during Isolation. It was such a creative way to use the set (of a split screen) to their advantage. Also Jon Keevy's saucy story. Man that guy is a helluva good writer.
BWW: Can we catch you on our screens ever?
Sophie: Heehee. Last Saturday I did a kid's puppet show, and tune in at 8pm next Friday (10 April) for something spicy.
BWW: And finally, do you think that Scenes on Screens will continue after lockdown?
Sophie: I would love to have a screening of all the performances we've had. Perhaps have some of the artists performing their stuff live too.
Ultimately, I think it is a product of the time. It arose because the show must go on and this was one of the ways it could do so. Nothing beats theatre in the flesh. That connection between performer and audience is one of the most special relationships - and I hope this space will encourage people who may not usually see live performances attend a play or a stand-up show.I hope it continues to be a space that promotes the arts and raises awareness and hosts interactions.
BWW: Thank you for chatting to us, Sophie. And thank you for helping to keep the arts alive with this wonderful platform. You're doing something magical for those who live for and love theatre!
Photo credit: supplied
Catch all the action for free on Instagram - Scenes_on_Screens.