Sir Cameron Mackintosh, one of our most famous and prolific producers, has given a truthful insight into how long we can really expect to go without theatres in our life. Sir Cameron is a theatre owner and producer, who has staged musicals including Cats, Les Miserables and the Phantom of the Opera. He spoke to Michael Ball on his BBC Radio 2 show and said it’s impossible for theatres to plan for the future while social distancing is in place.
“The truth is, until social distancing doesn’t exist anymore, we can’t even plan to reopen and I think from the moment social distancing doesn’t exist anymore, it will take us four to five months to actually get the actors back together. I think the truth it we won’t be able to come back until early next year”.
Obviously an estimate like that will obviously depend on Government guidelines around how social distancing will work when we are out of lock down and how long it will take until we can go back to the way things were.
“We want the audience to feel safe, and we want the actors to feel safe.”
Theatres in many countries have been closed indefinitely in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the UK, all West End performances have been cancelled until at least the 31st May.
We have had the pleasure of interviewing and spending a little time with Sir Cameron at a few events. The World Premier of Mary Poppins at the Bristol Hippodrome, which is a theatre very special to him having visited it as a very eager 8 year old boy. Again when we were at the opening performance of Hamilton in London. And finally at numerous Olivier Award ceremonies. I can honestly say we have never met anyone so passionate, knowledgeable and yet with an increasing enthusiasm for our theatre world.
His comments follow calls from other theatre professionals for urgent government bailouts, in order to save the industry from collapse. Sir Cameron told Michael Ball it looked as if the West End and Broadway “are going to be the last to go back”.
“For major producers both sides of the Atlantic, the truth is until social distancing doesn’t exist any more, we can’t even plan to reopen. We will be back, but we need time to get back. If we don’t hear in a few weeks, I think the truth is we won’t be able to come back until early next year. I think that’s quite clear. And the longer it is until we can say social distancing is gone, the longer it’ll be for the theatre to come back.”
Cameron also spoke about how horrible it would be for audiences to have to sit socially distanced and how you can’t have actors six feet away from each other on stage.
You can listen to Cameron with Michael Ball here. RADIO TWO Cameron joins the show at around 90 minutes in.
Playwright James Graham said recently……
“An aggressive government bailout” would be needed to save UK theatres from the impact of the pandemic. All of the reserves will have dried up and there will be no money left. I don’t even know if there will be a theatre or film industry that we can recognise when this is all over.”
Here at SOUTH WALES LIFE we are more than aware of the knock-on effect this will have on so many other businesses and workers. Everything from coffee shops and restaurants, taxi drivers and hotels and printing firms, the list is endless. That is without all the haulage firms, stage crew, front of house teams and so on.
On top of that, having something to look forward to in the way of a show or night out, is something many of us thrive on. We hope for the sake of everyone we get to grips with a situation no one could have expected, or predicted within our lifetime.
A few performers are trying to be creative with their performances, and we have featured many of them on our pages. With regular live streaming performances from home. There is definitely an audience, but it’s not easy to make the technology work.
Brian Lonsdale has made his living from acting for a long time now. He’s based in Newcastle, has a family to feed and, like so many others these days, to home school.
“When coronavirus started to kick in I was having a Twitter chat with a couple of actor mates discussing what the next few months would bring. Acting isn’t exactly a secure profession and everything was just collapsing. So we invented the Coronavirus Theatre Club (CTC) and it took off.”
“I’m pretty much working at it every hour of the day; hundreds and hundreds of theatre people just want to work. I look at the scripts submitted and then pair actors with directors and see who wants to do what. I’ve been learning so much. Each day I’ll realise there’s something I can’t do or something I should be doing. My life as an actor has been to learn lines, say them on stage and then it’s off to the pub.”
“Now I’m splitting the work with my colleagues Sam Neale and Michael Blair and the response has been fantastic. We had 1,000 followers within two hours.”
Brian actually comes from the same small Country Durham as I do, Crook. Not renowned for churning out actors but it certainly has with Brian.
Check out our other pages if you are missing a regular fix of live theatre.