Venues across the country have been captured during lockdown by theatre photographer Helen Murray for an online exhibition.
The series, Our Empty Theatres, comprises images of 22 theatres across the UK, including Leeds Playhouse, Manchester’s Royal Exchange, the Liverpool Everyman and London’s Soho Theatre, Royal Court, Donmar Warehouse and Battersea Arts Centre.
They are published online alongside quotes from more than 100 theatre workers, from front-of-house staff and wig makers to writers and designers.
Murray said: "Over the course of lockdown I set myself a challenge to create a project that responded to the situation but also told a photographic story of its own. I kept coming back to our empty theatres – these spaces that were now without life, without people and without stories."
She said shooting the series had been "sobering".
"Going back into these spaces that I know so well, I was met with total silence: no background noise, no chitter chatter, no infectious laughs bellowing out of a rehearsal room, just complete silence. The stark opposite of what they should be.
"As the theatre sector continues to face uncertainty, I hope the series serves as a reminder of why we must fight to fill these buildings with the people who make them thrive and not forget those who have been under-represented in the past," Murray said.
The series can be viewed online here, with featured theatres also including London’s Almeida, Bush, Kiln and Roundhouse theatres, as well as Theatre 503 and the Unicorn.
Among the 100-plus members of the theatre community who contributed to the project is playwright James Graham, who said: "These disquieting images of silent theatres are vital in reminding us of what was the longest ever period of closure, creating the most serious existential threat, to one of the oldest human activities we have. What I feel most when I see these heart-stopping images isn’t sadness, strangely. I overwhelmingly feel hope. These spaces are waiting for us to return."
Stella Kanu, executive director of London International Festival of Theatre, said the current period of closure could offer an opportunity to "be the change we want to see".
"We can refill with a newness never before seen but imagined by many over decades – where equity comes first in our structures and ways of working. The doors can open to those who have been standing outside for too long. We need them. I hope we let everyone in," she said.