As a freelance producer, I come into contact with colleagues from across the theatre sector. And, of course, coronavirus is the number one topic. Marketing people in mid-scale venues are bemoaning not just a drop in audience numbers but cancellations from the ‘gold-dust’ critics they have been wooing for months, and frazzled front-of-house staff are hastily plastering-up public health signs.
However, there is hope when you have a industry that is as varied and innovative as ours. Theatre will win out.
There could be workarounds. How about live-streaming closed-door performances? That way, you can attend virtually, even if you are sick or in isolation – performers and crews would be able to keep working and receive an income.
It won’t be the same experience, but it might be a way to get new audiences from the digital generation – they may come to the theatres when this difficult time ends.
To all the talented people in the performing arts, I would like to thank you for sharing your profound talents with us. Stay safe, healthy and positive. When this is all said and done, I (and others) shall look forward to experiencing all the enlightening entertainment that everyone from composers, to leads and lightening technicians have to offer. This is not the final curtain.
Rest in peace Roy Hudd. A gentleman who was so nice to my mother-in-law when she thought she knew him and greeted him like a long-lost friend. She kind of did know him – he was in her front room on TV three times a week.
It is such sad news. He was a lovely man, a brilliant actor and comedian.
It depresses, but does not surprise me that the University of the Arts London has decided to close the Drama Centre (‘Drama Centre to close following damning review’, March 12, p1). Despite the disingenuous list of reasons given by the university’s senior management, in my view, this iconic conservatoire has been closed because the courses were too expensive.
Why were they too expensive? Because at Drama Centre they taught practical skills, using high-quality acting, voice and movement teachers. Excellent teaching costs money, and despite the arrival of the teaching excellence framework, the university model of education is increasingly reliant on self-directed learning.
The relentless, creeping reduction in teaching hours, and the removal of resources is a pattern I suspect many conservatoires may find themselves facing as larger institutions look to make sweeping savings due to the government’s absurd policy of marketising education.
I hope Drama Centre is not simply the first of many, and that the cultural heritage of our internationally admired training establishments is not compromised by the same forces that have seen arts and humanities courses being decimated across the sector.
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“People from other industries may be looking on thinking this won’t affect them. The problem is [Boris] Johnson, getting away with this, will turn on you next. He cares not one jot for anyone, any trade, any profession, any community other than himself: hasn’t that penny dropped yet?” Composer Howard Goodall reacts to the prime minister’s advice to the public to avoid theatres (Twitter)
“What would be lovely is, if, in the weeks and months to come, we could all remember the sense of solidarity we felt tonight.” Critic Fiona Mountford (Twitter)
“We will support each other and we need to find new ways for those vulnerable with freelance and casual work.” Artistic director Vicky Featherstone on closing the Royal Court (Twitter)
“Incredibly hard decision, but the right one tonight. Utterly unsupported by the government who put the decision to close firmly in our hands. We have a responsibility to our company and audiences to put them first.” Co-artistic director of Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester Bryony Shanahan (Twitter)
“The more I think about Boris Johnson’s actions, the more furious I am. Refusing to make the closure of pubs, theatre and restaurants a directive, he invalidates our insurance and removes our income.” Actors Touring Company artistic director Matthew Xia (Twitter)
“We all have examples of things that felt devastating, insurmountable and made us feel frightened… But by working together and supporting each other, everything can be rebuilt.” Artistic director Battersea Arts Centre, Tarek Iskander (Twitter)
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