I am confident that rural touring will be the first successfully out the blocks, once gatherings are allowed, as Lyn Gardner suggests.
But I wonder if our theatres shouldn’t utilise these companies and their methodologies too, rather than just leaving them to village halls, fields and churches?
Adoption of their simple ‘pack in the back of a (insert any small-wheeled vehicle here)’ and DIY mentality, along with financial viability from small audience numbers, could see live performance restart in our theatres more quickly and safely, building confidence and reinvigorating depleted bank balances while we wait for the return of our larger companions.
Artistic director, This Is My Theatre
This is just like Shakespeare and co going on tour around the country to escape the plague in London. It could boost the kind of touring Lyn refers to in terms of the importance given to it after the Covid-19 pandemic. And it might be an employment avenue for drama school graduates, with just a whiff of rep about it, which gave so many of their predecessors useful experience.
Is this the return of regional rep, after a fashion?
This is all very well, but how does a company of actors tour in a van, get changed in toilets, and stay overnight safely in order to tour to these kinds of venues?
Doing rural touring theatre well takes a lot of planning and prior understanding that most theatre companies may not have. Is the will there to break away from the comfort of their main venues?
It’s brilliant to see rural touring being championed by Lyn Gardner in The Stage.
Agile and small-scale by nature, we could be one of the first ways to bring culture right back to the heart of communities.
It would be a bad decision for Trafalgar Studios to revert to a single theatre.
As an actress, I appeared in Trafalgar Studios 1’s inaugural production – the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Othello. Later, I performed in Trafalgar Studios 2 in Brendan Cowell’s dazzling play Happy New. Different spaces, different audiences, equal validity.
This is a huge loss to West End credibility.
Studio 2 was one of my favourite venues. I much prefer smaller, more intimate spaces, such a shame. Generally, I’m sick of the theatrics, distance and attempted spectacle larger venues go for.
It was tiny and not very comfortable and the larger space was very uncomfortable and didn’t work for a lot of stuff. So this is a way of creating one good space. Not too big but viable.
Some theatregoers (especially from out of town) are reluctant to go to ‘experimental’ venues but could be persuaded to try Studio 2 shows because of its location.
I know because I have persuaded them and they loved it. Who serves them, and those productions, now?
Making theatres safe is not just about seating, unfortunately.
How do actors perform a show while keeping their distance from each other? How do you unload a truck full of set when some of those pieces require four people huddled round them, stepping on each other as they’re carried in? How do you perform a quick costume change or a scene change in a wing the width of a narrow corridor? How do you quickly change someone’s radio mic without getting too close?
None of these questions can be answered until social distancing is completely lifted.
I’m sad that this is happening. I work in a theatre and two music venues and I’m trying to imagine how performances are going to return. I’m also thinking about the panto season, when hundreds of children and many schools attend – usually a child’s first experience of live theatre. We have to remain positive.
What about before the show – the crush at the bar, at the doors to the stalls, in the queues for the toilets?
If we are allowed to mix with household, certain social circles and family members then maybe those groups of people can sit together and a bit of distance would need to be in place between bookings.
Roy Hudd’s death is certainly a sad loss. He could inject humour into almost any situation.
I well remember the 1974 summer season in Bournemouth. Roy was in the Lulu Show at the Winter Gardens, while I appeared in the Bournemouth Aqua Show that year.
In those days, The Stage published a special summer edition covering all the shows across the UK, plus the islands. At that time, a high-profile Page 3 girl, Nina Carter – a Bournemouth girl whose real name was Penny Mallett – was gaining a lot of national publicity.
For that year’s special summer edition, Roy took out an advertisement consisting of a full-page photograph of him and Nina Carter on the beach with arms around each other smiling at the camera. To this he added two autographs: on his side, he wrote “Roy Hudd”, and on the other, he wrote “Morris Aza” – who was his agent at the time.
Those were great days. We will always remember him.