Grab some snacks, hop on the couch, and open up Facebook Live for a concert like no other. Welcome to the IsoLate Late Show!
The brainchild of Naomi Price and Adam Brunes (of The Little Red Company), The IsoLate Late Show is a brand new concept concert tailored precisely for social isolation. The show virtually brings together artists across the country for a night of singing, dancing, and all round fun. All funds raised by the weekly performances are donated to The Actors’and Entertainers’ Benevolent Fund Queensland, the state’s leading performing arts charity, which in turn will be distributed to support those in the live performance industry directly impacted by COVID-19.
Naomi is one of Australia’s leading cabaret and theatre performers. A woman of many talents, a few of her theatrical credits include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Michael Cassel Group), Ladies in Black (Queensland Theatre, Melbourne Theatre Company), Sweet Charity (Understudy Productions); YANK! (Understudy Productions); the 10th Anniversary concert of YANK! (54 Below, NYC), I Want to Know What Love Is (The Good Room national tour), and Kiss Me Kate (Opera Queensland).
With the next instalment of the show streaming tonight, I had a quick chat with Naomi about the incredible work that The Little Red Company are doing, and her process of curating and writing an online concert.
What inspired you to start the Iso-late Late Show?
Within hours of the Federal Government’s announcement of venue closures on 18 March, my entire years’ worth of employment disappeared, leaving me with no foreseeable income in 2020. It was an incredibly scary prospect, exacerbated by the fact that my partner works in the entertainment industry as well, so our entire household was devastated. More broadly, it meant the loss of work for our artists working across five different The Little Red Company projects throughout the year. In many respects, The IsoLate Late Show was born out of necessity. The necessity to be vocal. The necessity to demonstrate leadership to our team and the sector more broadly. The necessity to remain creative. The necessity to be busy. The necessity to deliver hope to our colleagues and audiences. The necessity to advocate for the vitalness of the arts and the essentialness of Australia’s creative workforce. While vital social distancing restrictions affect our ability to work in a traditional sense, it doesn’t restrict our ability to be creative and connect.
How have you had to adapt to a streaming format (rather than stage performance)?
We were mindful from the outset that we didn’t want to try to emulate experiences for viewers that are already available. With so much video-on-demand content already available from channels like Netflix, Stan, YouTube, Disney+, there’s no shortage of things to watch. What people are craving is a sense of shared experience and togetherness, and it’s been so lovely that The IsoLate Late Show has become a weekly Friday night outing of sorts for so many viewers. No matter what else their week has thrown at them, it provides an opportunity to share in a live experience, join a conversation, send through their song requests and just switch off a bit. The liveness of the experience is absolutely key.
In terms of the technical delivery of the live-stream, now that’s a whole lot of wizardry that thankfully I’m not personally responsible for! We’re so lucky to have assembled a best-of-breed team of artists and creatives who make the magic happen every Friday, from remote OB vans, interstate story producers, out-of-town lighting engineers operating remotely, music arrangers and audio engineers that have never met in person… The behind-the-scenes activity is as impressive as the on-stage action, if not more so.
What has been the most exciting part about the project?
The most exciting and motivating aspect is undoubtedly the mobilisation of so many loved and respected colleagues working together to deliver something beautiful and vital every week, and continually raising the bar with each episode. It’s a great demonstration of resilience and spirit, with formidable artists donating their time and talent to raise money for the creative sector via the Actors’ and Entertainers’ Benevolent Fund QLD. The talent we’ve been able to collaborate with has been incredibly diverse: creatives from the dance industry, music theatre, magic, pop music, classical music, theatre, television, recording artists and many more are coming together to provide unbelievable variety for our audience.
The growth in audience is a huge motivator too – the show has reached more than 150,000 people in just four weeks, and generated more than 4,000 comments from viewers during the live broadcasts alone. The energy is palpable. The number of phenomenal artists reaching out to be involved is also so heart-warming and reinforces the solidarity and camaraderie of the artistic community.
And what about the most challenging part?
The most challenging part is certainly delivering a 90-minute live broadcast every week. It’s like a freight-train. Once the curtain comes down on a Friday night show, we’re back into Zoom calls first thing Saturday to start mapping out the next episode. It’s beyond a full-time job. Again, this is where the expertise of our team really shows. In addition to working with Queensland’s most extraordinary theatre makers and creatives, we’ve got an expert team of television producers lending their talents to the show. It’s true collaboration in every sense of the word.
Why do you think people now more than ever are so drawn to the arts?
The arts allow us to contemplate and process our thoughts and feelings like nothing else. Art offers new perspectives and offers clarity and calm. It also offers an escape from the everyday, which is more vital now than ever.
What can audiences expect each week?
World-class musicianship, hopefulness, escapism, surprises, comedy, moments of breath-taking beauty and also complete silliness. Fun, connection and love at a time when we need it most.
Tune in to The IsoLate Late Show on The Little Red Company’s Facebook page each Friday at 8pm AEST.