A new world of theatre: Aimie Atkinson on groundbreaking theatre platform Thespie
Digital theatre platform Thespie offers theatregoers the chance to connect globally to shows through streaming and, where possible, COVID-safe live performances. Famed stage actress and singer Aimie Atkinson has joined forces with founder Tyler Stoops to take on the role of creative director at the platform. We were able to talk to her about her first run of shows, the Reunited series, what it feel like to be performing again with cast members from SIX, and her plans for future projects.
Congratulations on your new role as creative director of Thespie! Can you tell us about how you got involved?
I came on board with Thespie after co-producing The Reunion, a show with the original Queens from SIX. We had such a fabulous time and worked tremendously together, so we wanted to continue the partnership. Thespie’s creator Tyler Stoops and I had a joint vision of helping support artists and opening up the theatre world to new audiences.
Tell us a bit about your first run of shows, the Reunited series – what can audiences expect?
This December we have some very exciting things happening at Thespie with the streaming of our Reunited series in full force. We started with Unlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz; we then had Oops I Streamed It Again, with the wonderful Oliver Tompsett, Tim Mahendran, Grace Mouat, Jordan Luke Gage and Olivier award-winner Cassidy Janson. After the success of The Reunion with the original SIX cast we went straight into creating a completely new show with Girl Power. Then to get everyone into the festive spirit we have All I Want for Christmas Is Theatre, with some of the industry’s biggest talents coming together to sing their favourite Christmas songs. We are heading into the new year with a show from the women of Pretty Woman: The Musical, and Together Again with Jodie Sam Steele, T’Shan Williams and Sophie Isaacs.
You’re performing again with your fellow cast members from SIX: The Musical in the series. How does it feel to be back on stage doing what you love?
It is such an incredible feeling to not only be performing again, but to be back onstage with the girls. We went through such a crazy journey together on SIX and have a sisterly bond that can’t really be described, so it is so special to be performing with them again. We have always wanted to do something together, but we were always too busy with our solo projects, so one good thing to come out of 2020 is that we were all free and jumped at the chance to create these shows together.
With limited capacity to perform during the lockdown, what challenges have you faced in pulling all this together?
We had all these big ideas and wanted to connect audiences to theatre in whatever way we could. Our biggest challenge was to be super stringent on safety and making people feel comfortable, but not let it hinder the magic of the process and the shows themselves.
How do you think Thespie has evolved as a platform since it began?
Since Thespie began we have evolved to not only showcase other online productions on our platform, but also produce our own programme of streamed shows and, when we could, live theatre. Our main objectives were to employ talent and creatives and to provide a much-needed income, but also a creative output for them in this time. We also wanted to connect fans of theatre globally who wouldn’t usually be able to see this type of content, not only because of the pandemic, but because they live overseas.
What do you hope to bring to the in-house programme in the future?
We want to continue producing our online shows but, when we can, produce live theatre alongside the streamed medium. I think we live in a world now where we can marry the two together to open theatre up to a wider audience.
Will you support new and emerging theatre makers and actors alongside more established artists?
Oh absolutely! My whole career has been forged performing in new, never-seen-before theatre. I’ve been so lucky to work on many new shows, and that process is like no other. I want to champion new writing wherever I can, as I know there is so much writing talent out there that just needs the support and the platform. Thespie and I are always looking out for new projects to help bring new theatre to fruition.
How important is it for you to represent more diversity at Thespie?
It is of mass importance that we see diversity represented in not only Thespie’s work but the theatre industry as a whole. We have come a long way, but the journey is not over, and we must never stop having this conversation.
What have been some of the highlights of your own career so far?
When SIX became a global phenomenon we were catapulted into the limelight, and I was suddenly known by a lot of people. From the outside it must have looked like an overnight success, but I realised while in lockdown that I have been working in the industry for 17 years. Now don’t get me wrong, there have been many highs – being nominated for a Olivier being a big one, and of course bagging Pretty Woman was an absolute dream come true – but there have been as many and maybe even more lows. For a long time, I couldn’t get in the door, but I kept knocking until one day someone let me in. I think with all the highlights the lows have been very worthy too as they have made me a stronger person and, I believe, a better performer.
With two Olivier nominations behind you for your roles in SIX and Pretty Woman, you’re a seasoned performer, but could this new role at Thespie see you move into other areas of theatre production too?
I’ve always wanted to produce, so when the acting work dried up about five years ago, I set up my corporate entertainment company Goldstone. I travelled the world putting on shows in the craziest of places. I’ve always had this compulsion to help people, and my way of doing that was to give my performer friends work while they were waiting for that big break in the theatre industry. With Thespie, I’ve been given the platform to do this on a bigger scale; I hope to continue providing work for performers and technical workers, and producing high quality shows to captivate audiences all over the world.
Thank you so much for speaking with us!
For further information about Thespie and to buy tickets to featured shows visit here.