A theatre company in Greenock is going above and beyond to save a Christmas tradition this year.

Actors from No Nonsense Productions are giving new meaning to the phrase “the show must go on” by filming their performance on the main stage of the Beacon in Greenock, and broadcasting it online.

Produced by Beacon Arts Centre and No Nonsense Productions, “A Christmas Carol, A Radio Play on Stage” will be available for all to view this year. 

The company, which has performed a Christmas show for the last 8 years will also be aiming to spread festive cheer this year with a “pay what you decide” ticket policy as well as making available to schools and care homes free of charge.

Speaking exclusively to The Herald, Artistic Director Kevin Janetts, 36, outlined the commitment of the cast and the challenges faced by production in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. He said: “We want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy the show regardless of their financial circumstances. 

“We recognise that this has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone and we hope that 'A Christmas Carol; A Radio Play on Stage', can provide a little bit of much-needed entertainment and escapism.

“We have also been in touch with local care homes to ascertain the best way to share the show with their residents. We have a limited number of DVDs of the show available for free to anyone who would like one. 

“The idea behind this is to make the show more accessible to anyone who may not have online access. 

HeraldScotland: Picture; Amy O’ BrienPicture; Amy O’ Brien

“We hope that the production will allow our audience to continue a Christmas tradition albeit in a slightly different way.” 

And for many in the community, the production is very much a tradition, with No Nonsense Productions putting on a Christmas show in Greenock every year since 2012. 

Despite the previous success of the events at the Beacon, with their last show in 2019 selling out entirely, the challenges faced following Covid-19 pandemic made putting on a performance harder than any previous year according to Jannetts.  He said: “The main challenge was the uncertainty and consequently the time scales involved. 

“Usually we would decide on and start working on a Christmas show a lot earlier in the year. At that point, we thought that by December we might have been able to have a small, socially distanced, audience.

“If we could have performed in this way we would probably have gone ahead.

“Obviously this would have been a risk but we had the idea of filming the show too in order to reach the widest possible audience. 

“We had a very short one day rehearsal period. We also had one day of filming and the smallest possible number of cast and crew.

“We had created risk assessments and put rehearsal procedures in place. We also rehearsed and performed in the Beacon and adhered to all procedures including providing track and trace details.  

“The challenge was for everyone involved to remain responsive and flexible in the face of changing circumstances and restrictions.”    

He added: “It has been an incredibly difficult year for actors. 

“The lack of a live audience is not ideal especially given the nature of the show.” 

 “I hope that the arts in Inverclyde will recover quickly from the effects of COVID 19 and will continue to flourish. Although the pandemic has had devastating consequences the arts are vital.”

Speaking on the importance of the continuing production to the local scene, Lisa McRuvie, the Marketing Officer for Beacon Arts Theatre said: “No Nonsense Productions’ radio plays on stage have become one of the great success stories of the Beacon Arts Centre’s festive programmes, and are much loved by our audiences.

“Year on year audiences return to enjoy sell-out radio plays and it’s traditions that we are all really missing this year in the absence of live performance. 

“The shows have built a loyal following and we hope that by adapting the performance for screen, audiences will keep the tradition going and watch at home with friends and family, to experience the performance in a new way, for free, whilst we remain apart.”

You can find out more details about the production HERE.