The show must go on, as they say, and in 2020 - despite all the challenges thrown up by the pandemic - that’s exactly what happened. Although the virus has caused many theatres all over the world - including in London’s famous West End - to shut down, that has not stopped resourceful productions from finding other ways to reach the public to deliver fantastically entertaining experiences. While we are all hoping that 2021 is the year that we return to some kind of normality there remains a determination to ensure that the show keeps going on no matter what the conditions.
COVID-19 has had a huge impact
Two national lockdowns and tier restrictions have caused a lot of headaches for the theatre sector over the past 12 months. All have been affected, from venues and producers to the freelancers who account for 70% of the workforce in this creative industry. There have been no virus outbreaks attached to any theatres in the UK so far and so there have been questions asked about why large retail shops have been given permission to stay open while theatres have often been forced to close. The £1.57 billion Culture Recovery fund has been set up by the government to help the industry recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic but those within theatres have also found a myriad of ways to help ensure that the industry keeps moving.
UK Stage and Theatre Production - the show must go on
- Theatres as workplaces. Although there have been restrictions in terms of mixing actors, crew and audiences, theatres constitute workplaces and this has meant that those within them can continue rehearsing and creating, preparing new productions and ideas for the moment that the restrictions are lifted. This has meant daily temperature checks and regular testing and some production members staying away from their families but the important work has continued.
- Safety precautions put in place. Before the November lockdown some theatres had begun to reopen with precautions in place, such as social distancing and face masks and much smaller audiences - with no apparent outbreaks linked to any theatres. The industry is ready to reopen with this type of protection as soon as it is able.
- Using technology to make the magic happen. Technology has been a lifesaver during this pandemic, not just for individuals and businesses but for the theatre world too. Broadcasting productions via Zoom and YouTube, for example, have allowed the show to go on and in some cases even reach a much broader audience as a result. The Old Vic’s seasonal production of A Christmas Carol, for example, was played to an empty auditorium but a large viewing audience online. Earlier in the year the theatre also produced “In Camera,” a season of plays performed on stage but broadcast online to allow theatre goers to still remain connected to the culture that they love.
Although the pandemic has made things hard for British theatre the show has gone on throughout the past year - and in 2021 it is hoped that finally the audiences might return too.
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