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September 14 2021, News

SFD Chair Sam Allen

Whatever you decide, we’re ready and waiting.
SFD Chairman Sam Allen considers the future of SFD competitions as societies tentatively return to the stage following the lockdowns of the Covid pandemic.

The summer holidays are behind us, and the first flurry of the return to work, college or school is over. It has been more of a flurry than usual, of course, because for eighteen months or so we have been spending an inordinate amount of time staying at home, talking online and generally keeping our distance. But the vaccination rollout has changed all that and now we can go into the office, visit a museum, play sport and, joy of joys, have a night out at the theatre.

The thing is: do we want to? OK, I don’t think anyone will miss all those tedious Zoom meetings. But do we want to throw caution to the wind so we can mix and mingle? Do we hanker after singing and dancing, releasing our inner Gielgud, and performing once again in front of a real life audience with all the laughter and applause that goes along with it? Or are we still slightly nervous in a crowd? Come to that, are those real life audiences ready to sit shoulder to shoulder for hours on end in packed auditoriums with people coughing all around?

And, of course, before every performance we will have spent many hours working in close proximity in sweaty rehearsal rooms labouring late into the night. 

Are we ready for all that again? Well, if the notices for new shows appearing on the Somerset Fellowship of Drama’s Facebook pages are anything to go by, the answer is a hearty: YES!?

And if you do feel ready to return to the stage, are you happy the standards will be as high as ever or will it take time to grow and develop once again?

The SFD committee met last week to discuss all these issues. There are a lot of imponderables. Will societies be running their shows as usual? Will audiences turn out in numbers? Will we have enough adjudicators and moderators prepared to drive all over the county and sit for hours in crowded theatres and village halls? Will the government reintroduce some new restrictions? In other words, will there be a competitive season this year or not?

So many known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. And probably a few somewhere in between. But, as the saying goes, the show must go on and the SFD is determined to be there for you when you are ready, or at the very least we’re going to bust a gut trying.

The new seasons are about to start and if you are putting on a show in the next year, let us know. Enter the competition in the usual way. If you do not feel you are competition-ready, we can always offer a constructive adjudication. And if we end up with too few entries to make a competition viable, you will still have had the benefit of an objective assessment of your show.

Two years ago we launched the separate David Beach Youth Competition. For this year only we plan to combine that with the David Beach Competition again because we believe it gives us the best chance of having a viable competition for musicals.

So will there be competitions or not? Really, the answer is in your hands. If there are enough entries, the answer will be yes. If we have to alter and adapt some aspects of the competitions, so be it. But with a bit of imagination and our usual boundless determination, we feel we can make a go of it. Now is not the time for clichés but we really must do our darnedest to get this show on the road!

Sam Allen, SFD Chair