Emma Clarendon chatted to Damsel Productions artistic director about producing Damsel Outdoors.

How did the concept for the festival come about? It was around April, when lockdown had very much established itself. Kitty (Damsel’s Executive Producer) and I were in frequent conversation about what could be a meaningful contribution from Damsel during these times. Was it better to keep quiet and reflect? Was it to bring workshops or readings online? What did we feel we could contribute meaningfully, if anything? We settled on this idea of bringing live performance to audiences before theatre’s reopen, with a real back to basics and out of the box approach.

How does it feel to be producing theatre under these new circumstances? There’s a real sense of being constantly in unchartered waters. All the things we thought we knew about how to promote and bring together a show in this case don’t apply, not only because of the
outside nature of the festival but also, of course, because of Covid-19. I think the biggest shift I’ve felt is a constant openness to things not going the way we expect – both weather and government restrictions on the pandemic are outside of Damsel’s control –  and so an attitude of flexibility,
positivity and acceptance feels important.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge in creating Damsel Outdoors? There’s been plenty! But perhaps finding ways to get in touch and in conversation with local councils and businesses during the pandemic has been one of the hardest elements. Because so many
workplaces are no longer operating, it’s much harder to do that groundwork.

What are you most looking forward to about the festival? Hard to say, there’s plenty. But I think that moment just before the show begins, standing beside other audience members, with a sense of anticipation and intrigue. And sharing responses with both the artists and audiences after the show.

If you had to describe Damsel Outdoors what would you say? It’s a first-time outdoor festival for Damsel Productions, bringing together twelve fantastic womxn and non-binary artists to make four pieces of work. The festival is there to bring together artists and audiences, and offer up a live experience of performance before theatre’s reopen.

By Emma Clarendon

Damsel Outdoors will run at a number of out door venues from the 13th to the 23rd August. To find out more visit: http://damselproductions.co.uk/damsel-outdoors