|31 Jul 2020
The special adaptation of the stage version of Birdsong was filmed to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme whilst also raising money for the Royal British Legion.
Birdsong online was not like any ordinary production filmed for screen however, as it was put together during lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and filmed using video technology, live performance, sound design and music, all woven together to create a unique masterpiece. The 14 cast members were provided with historical prop weapons, period costumes and a crash course in hair and make-up before recording their performances in their own homes on tablet devices.
Speaking in an interview for the Mail on Sunday (7 June 2020), director Alastair Whatley admitted that the project had required some playful camera use and film making techniques to capture scenes which were pivotal to the storyline. First World War trench scenes were apparently created with the cast ‘writhing around on their kitchen floors’ in front of green screens, so the backgrounds could be added by computer later.
In the article in the Mail on Sunday, Sebastian Faulks who narrates during the production, praised the ingenuity of the film, saying: ‘I don’t begin to understand all the tech, but it’s a bit like making a feature film with all the actors in different places.’
The new production, from the Suffolk-based Original Theatre Company was screened online twice in July, for three nights each, to coincide with the 104th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, in which more than 19,000 British troops died on the first day alone. Ticket sales from the screenings included a donation to the Royal British Legion.
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