Performer Beverley Knight has confirmed the safety of backstage staff in theatres, following a pilot event to show how venues can reopen safely.
Speaking at the London Palladium, where she performed to a socially distanced audience as part of an event to test new safety measures, she told The Stage all backstage staff had been tested for Covid-19 and that a number of new measures were in place, such as temperature readings and a one-way system backstage.
“Everyone backstage was tested and Covid free, so you can move around more freely but with measures put in place,” she said, adding: “It’s stringent and you went in with a sense of relaxation and knew you would be okay. And that is all anybody is interested in, they want to work, know they are safe and get on with the jobs they enjoy doing. And that is what we did.”
LW Theatres chief executive Rebecca Kane Burton also said all backstage staff had been tested.
“Everyone who is intimate, from dresser to make-up artist, they all get tested. We are not going to put anyone this side [backstage] in jeopardy,” she said.
The event was also attended by director Trevor Nunn, who said people would be “totally willing to go through the extra routines and that will become something that is the new norm”.
“No one is going to say: ‘Oh well, secretly we will disobey the rules’. Everyone will want to be punctilious about the rules and the new checks,” he said.
At the event, Knight also shared her thoughts on performing to a theatre at 30% capacity, describing it as “odd”.
“It’s so important to be able to read their expressions, read the room as people say, and you can’t, so you have to have more physical queues. I am used to strong-arming my audience into doing what I want, with things like ‘hands in the air’ or ‘get on your feet’ and you have to do that to feel you are getting something back from the audience,” she said.
She added: “You find yourself having to work that much harder as you are not sure what you’re getting back. You are not sure how to interpret what you’re getting back.”