Young Vic bosses have described the “miraculous” process of bringing three scratch performances of Death of a Salesman to their stage with a day’s notice, with the main house turned “from a construction site” into an auditorium.
The theatre hosted the three performances after the collapse on November 6 of a section of the ceiling at the Piccadilly Theatre, where the play normally runs.
Artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah and executive director Despina Tsatsas said in a statement: “Pulling off three scratch performances at the Young Vic over the weekend was nothing short of miraculous. On Thursday morning, when we first discussed the idea with the co-producers Elliott and Harper Productions and Cindy Tolan that perhaps the show could be brought home to the Young Vic for a few scratch performances, our main house was a construction site. By Friday afternoon, we had an auditorium and a superb front-of-house team in place, minimal props, costume and set pieces brought over from the Piccadilly Theatre, and the full company, led by the phenomenal Wendell Pierce and Sharon D Clarke, who were all committed to continuing to tell this extraordinary story.”
They added that the performances “were probably as close you could get to seeing a show during its final rehearsal room run – something only a handful of people who work in theatre usually have the privilege to witness”.
“While nothing can ever compare to seeing this production in all its glory, with full costume, set and lighting design, there was undeniably a magical energy of its own kind created during these unique scratch performances. The spirit of coming together from the directors, co-producers, stage management team, and everyone at the Young Vic, to ensure that this show could continue, made it a weekend we will all remember for a very long time. We are immensely proud of all the people who worked tirelessly to make it happen – and we cannot thank them enough,” they said.
Introducing the first of the scratch performances on November 8, co-director Marianne Elliott said the stagings had their own “magic that nobody will ever see again”.
“The last rehearsal room run throughs are probably the greatest privilege I ever get in my working career – there is no set, no lighting and there are no costumes. I’ve often thought it’s a shame in a way nobody in ourselves get to see this as you really see actors at work then you really understand the craft there,” she said, adding: “So we are hoping tonight will have its own special magic that nobody will ever see again. What a play needs is an audience so it’s amazing that you are here.”