How to go to the Theatre safely- the latest advice

With the relaxation of certain rules on July 19th, theatres have prepared to return at full capacity, which is the only way that their shows are financially viable.

If you have tickets booked for a show, firstly I hope you have a great, safe time. The best way to prepare -if you are feeling even a little bit anxious -is to read all the information available, to understand that there are systems in place to minimise risks.

Let’s take a look at the key advice from Official London Theatre

ALLOW EXTRA TIME TO TRAVEL TO THE THEATRE – increasing passenger numbers may make you feel uneasy and so you will feel less stressed if you have time to wait for the next train coming along

FULLY READ YOUR TICKETS AND EMAILS – the theatre should have provided you with all the information you need to know about when to arrive, where to enter, what will be required of you, etc. The more information you have the more comfortable you will hopefully feel about your visit.

PROVIDE YOUR COVID STATUS MAY BE ASKED – The ticket information should tell you this, and what form of documentation they accept. Rules are much less stringent for Under 18s who haven’t yet been offered the vaccination option.

TEMPERATURE CHECKS? – The venues requiring this should state this on their email conformations or tickets.

WILL I HAVE TO WEAR A MASK ALL THE TIME? – It is strongly suggested that you wear your mask whenever moving around inside any theatre.

IN THE AUDITORIUM – other customers will be seated directly next to you as social distancing is no longer a requirement. Only you will know how you feel about this.

WHAT PROCESSES ARE IN PLACE? – Theatres are cleaning between performances and use of hand sanitiser is encouraged when entering and exiting theatres.

CAN I GET AN AUTOGRAPH AFTER THE SHOW? – No. All Stage Door activities are suspended at all theatres until further notice.

WHAT IF I TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID AND CAN’T ATTEND? – Firstly, don’t worry. Contact your point of sale or the theatre Box Office who will be able to advise you. Theatres are being very flexible and understanding, so don’t be afraid to ask them.

For further and more detailed information, see the OLT advice webpage here


Theatres Trust announces new small-scale grants

The Theatres Trust and The Linbury Trust have just announced that they are to award a first round of over £69k in grants from the Small Grants Programme to 14 theatres across the UK for projects to improve their accessibility, sustainability, and viability, allowing them to welcome back audiences old and new after the devastating period of closure due to Covid.

The scheme was set up to support theatres across the UK with projects to improve their accessibility, sustainability, and viability, allowing them to welcome back audiences old and new after the devastating period of closure.

Projects range from installing a Changing Places toilet alongside other vital accessibility works and improving technology to develop theatres’ digital infrastructure, upgrades to more sustainable heating systems, and essential repairs to electrics, safety equipment, and toilets to help them remain viable and thrive.

The Small Grants Programme has been made possible thanks to the support of The Linbury Trust and donations from Judy Craymer CBE and Charles Michael Holloway Charitable Trust.

The theatres to benefit are

Angles Theatre
Finborough Theatre
Lawrence Batley Theatre
Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith 
Malvern Theatres
Pateley Bridge Playhouse
Romiley Little Theatre
Stables Theatre
Stanley Arts
Theatr Brycheiniog
Theatro Technis
Tower Theatre Folkestone
Trinity Theatre Tunbridge Wells
Worcester Swan

The second round of this Small Grants Programme initiative is now open, inviting applications for grants of up to £5,000 for not-for-profit theatres.


Watch Now: Finborough offers another classic revival – with a few intriguing twists!

Yet again the brilliant Finborough Theatre comes up with another online offering to enjoy through August. This time it’s another in their ever-fascinating line of theatrical rediscoveries which are always worth seeing. Another intriguing facet to this production is the appearance in the cast of two people best known as theatre critics not actors- Michael Billington and Fiona Mountford. Intrigued? Me too!

Presented as part of the Kensington and Chelsea Festival, this play is – intriguingly- actually located in the borough, in the streets in and around the Finborough itself. The play is available now until 25 August.

MASKS AND FACES OR, BEFORE AND BEHIND THE CURTAIN by Charles Reade and Tom Taylor was written and first performed in 1852

“We are actors. The most unfortunate of all artists. Nobody regards our feelings…”

Country gentleman Ernest Vane comes to London and is seduced into the celebrity lifestyle of a group of players – soon discarding his new wife for the more obvious charms of the great stage actress Peg Woffington.

In the tradition of The School for Scandal and The Rivals, Masks and Faces is both a 18th century period caper and a tribute to the backstage world of the theatre, complete with the hapless failed playwright, Triplet, and his hungry family, to real-life writer Colley Cibber, and the ghastly critics Soaper and Snarl……

Set in the 18th century, written in the 19th century, filmed in the 20th century (with an all-star cast), and now presented for the first time online, MASKS AND FACES is a celebration of making theatre.

First performed in 1852, the history of MASKS AND FACES is rooted in Kensington and Chelsea and the local area around the Finborough Theatre. It provided Ellen Terry – a former resident of Finborough Road, and a long term resident of Earl’s Court – with one of her first and most acclaimed leading roles. The production is supported by the Friends of Brompton Cemetery, next to the Finborough Theatre, where the co-author Tom Taylor, and actors Ben Webster and Sir Squire and Lady Bancroft – all known for their roles in Masks and Faces – lie buried.

Presented by Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre as part of The Kensington + Chelsea Festival 2021 which runs from 21 June–31 August. The Kensington + Chelsea Festival will bring people together to inspire and be inspired, offering a season of arts experiences in venues and unusual spaces, putting culture at the heart of pandemic recovery. The multi-disciplinary will celebrate creativity and culture for everyone. The Festival mix spans visual art, public art, design, theatre, circus, opera, dance, music, outdoor arts, comedy, spoken word, young people’s take-over stages, family shows, talks, micro-commissions, with creative experiments enabling audiences to see artists bringing new ideas to life.

MASKS AND FACES will be available to watch online from Wednesday, 28 July at 6.00pm to Wednesday, 25 August 2021 at midnight. The show will be available with subtitles on Screensaver here.

WATCH THE SHOW HERE

Find the theatre’s information about the show here


Society for Theatre Research announces new grants

Are you, or do you know, a theatre practitioner or researcher working through the pandemic and in need of financial help to develop a project?

The Society for Theatre Research has just announced they will be awarding twenty support grants of £200 available to help theatre practitioners and researchers through the ongoing problems caused by the pandemic. These grants are for practitioners working in the UK to facilitate British and British-related theatre projects.

The application is quick and closing date for applications is Friday 13th August.

You can find more information and application details here


VIEWS: A time for focus

Well, I hadn’t expected for this to be a continuing series ,but things are changing quite quickly so I felt it was important to take a few moments to make a few observations.

Since the West End (and other shows) have reopened, albeit piecemeal, it has been a turbulent time. Some shows have realised that it will take longer to get back to pre-pandemic audiences, and have consequently postponed or cancelled national tours, adding further uncertainty to the ever-shifting schedules of regional theatres.

In the West End, shows at the Coliseum , the Dominion and Royal Court have had backstage or cast members register a positive COVID-test, which meant that their show had to close down for 10 days while everyone isolates. Let’s compare this to a footballer, who tests positive but the team can continue training and playing. Level playing field, I think not.

While 10 days closure seems very cautious indeed, what we must also remember are the knock-on effects of this. Hard-pressed Box Offices are beseiged with calls from customers wanting to reschedule their visits, not all of them happy or empathetic, with all the accompanying stress that brings (not all customers are lovely about changing their plans, believe you me!).

Further, you may not know but everyone who is forced to isolate receives no pay whatsoever. Can you imagine how precarious this all feels to a performer or backstage worker who was so elated at getting a job after 16 months, only to have the financial lifeline it provides pulled from under their feet. Requests have been made to adjust the quarantine requirements, but of course we see how slowly this government acts- if at all. This is a key impact of the Government not providing support in the form of an insurance-backed scheme to compensate producers for any losses due to Covid stoppages. Exactly the same sort of insurance coverage helped the Film and TV industry get back to work over a year ago. Why did the Government not help theatres too? You decide.

I am sure you can appreciate this makes no sense at all, but then why should we ask for sense from a government which clearly hasn’t a clue, with no concept of right or wrong, fair or discriminatory, compassionate or cruel. They just don’t care.

I have heard that performers in cancelled shows are receiving abusive or threatening messages via social media, which is utterly unacceptable. If any performers or crew member receives abuse, they should report it to the police immediately. It’s understandable that people are upset. A LOT of people are upset. But being upset at the wrong people is wrong – and no way to get anything sorted.

This COVID mess , if it is anyone’s fault, is the Government’s -from mistiming lockdowns and unlockings, to giving incorrect and confusing advice from start to finish which now leaves us back in the situation we were in at Christmas, with cases likely to soar to new heights, putting evermore pressure on our valued NHS.

Big shows like HAIRSPRAY at the Coliseum are taking on 12 extra performers to try to cover them for any future COVID- related restrictions, but very few shows (if any in this appallingly difficult time) could afford the budget to do that. And just imagine how that is cutting into the profit margin for what was already a tightly-forecast 12-week run.

Meanwhile, another change to contend with is that audiences are now sitting up close and personal to each other in venues packed to full capacity after the misleadingly-titled Freedom Day. My projection is that many will not feel ready for this after more than a year of separation – and that consequently, they will feel desperately uncomfortable, unsafe and unsure – they will reschedule where they can, others will simply not go and others wont buy tickets until they see the case numbers going down in a big way.

The Summer is usually one of theatres’ boom times, as tourists flock to our world-beating entertainment scene. The tourists aren’t here this year, so venues have to work even harder to get UK audiences in- and it’s not easy in a heatwave as we’ve had this last week, even in normal times. Theatres will be more than ever subject to last-minute booking which brings uncertainty as to their financial projections, and may certainly cause some producers to slash ticket prices in a panic to get any price for a seat. I hope this won’t happen, but rising case numbers and extreme weather make this more likely. I hope not, but,….