Theatre in Lockdown


It’s week… something… of covid-19 lockdown…

It can hardly have escaped your notice that the world has gone viral, and definitely not in a good way.

Lockdown has been catastrophic for theatre venues, and only time will tell what remains of the industry when we’re finally at a point where we can all sit together in a room again.

Art, however, will out. It will always find a way. And good job too, because in these dark and troubled times, art is how we will find solace, and how we will view these times in the years to come.

The National Theatre has done a huge service to the population with their amazing free screenings of past performances – it’s been fun to watch along with mates (via the internet of course) but it’s no replacement for the real thrill of witnessing a live performance. That said, I have loved getting to see so many performances I missed out on in “real life” (remember that? Real life? Where we were allowed to sit in a darkened room with strangers to experience theatre live?!) I was particularly excited to watch Treasure Island having performed in it myself last year at Northampton’s stunning Church of the Holy Sepulchure – you can find out what I thought of the National Theatre production here. From a personal perspective, I’ve been overjoyed by the number of productions featuring Oliver Chris! (that 3, btw, One Man Two Guv’nors, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Ah the internet – what would fresh hell would lockdown have been without the internet? The reaction of the theatre industry was almost instant – beyond the free screenings by NT at Home, Nick Hern Books have been releasing a free script each week to enjoy, there have been pay what you can workshops – and right now Creative Collective Initiative are running loads of amazing free ones on all sorts of topics – and now David Tennant and Michael Sheen have created a whole tv series across the internet (which is very much worth the watch – utterly hilarious!)

Zoom (other video conference software is available) has been a lifeline. A few weeks back I got to see friends from Masque Theatre performing Romeo & Juliet live all from their living rooms, and I’ve been part of read-throughs all from the comfort of my dining table (including a first read of play I’ve been writing myself). It will never replace the feeling of fulfilment you get from rehearsals, or a run of shows, but the connection has been a lifeline.

I now have a new project on the go, something I’ve wanted to do for a long while but the lockdown has actually made it easier to achieve, oh the irony! I’ve abridged and adapted a script, and now it’s just time to record it…

Of course, I’ve also been talking to others involved in the performing arts as part of my Intermissions Interviews, which has been great for keeping in touch.

Have you managed to be creative during lockdown? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to!

While I’ve got you here – beyond missing live performances and being in rehearsal, I also desperately miss my day job at Royal & Derngate. It’s dangerous times for the theatre industry as a whole, and as an independent theatre, and a charity to boot, we need your help. I’ve been furloughed since April and feel utterly useless in the fight to keep the venue going at times, but if you’re able I would love you to have a read about the Bring Us Back Together campaign, and maybe make a donation or book tickets for a show once we reopen, or even purchase gift cards or a membership. R&D is the cultural heart of Northampton, and the jewel in its crown, so please don’t let Covid-19 and our incompetent government’s lack of funding see us forced to close.