Second closure order comes as hammer blow to London’s theatres
LONDON (UK) – As Britain’s capital city moves into the toughest level of coronavirus curbs, theatres in London will once again be forced to close. Some of them have been forced to close Christmas shows just a few days after reopening and this has come as a double whammy to the industry.
The government said on Monday that in the wake of the rising number of infections in London, all hospitality and indoor entertainment venues would remain closed and a two-day notice was given to the industry.
“It’s a huge blow for the casts, for the crews, for the creative teams. You know, a huge amount of money has been invested in getting these Christmas shows up and running, and now they have to close,” said Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre.
He said about 30 theatres are open in the capital and they range from small halls to massive auditoriums.
Following the pandemic crisis, many theatres adapted to the new regulations by making their shows and premises COVID safe by reducing the number of viewers, ensuring social distancing and enforcing temperature checks at the entrance.
Louis Hartshorn, CEO of Hartshorn-Hook Productions, said: “It’s a hammer blow to an industry that’s already on its knees … we have managed to put together a production expecting that there might be some twists in the road. But actually, we’re getting to the point where the reserves are exhausted.”
Though his firm’s production of ‘The Great Gatsby’ reopened in October, it now has to close down for a second time in two months.
He said theatres all over Britain are feeling the same.
The theatre scene in the British capital is slightly bigger than New York’s Broadway with just over 15 million attendances last year, as per the Society of London Theatre’s box office data.
London’s theatres clocked in a revenue of nearly 800 million pounds last year, with the average ticket costing around 50 pounds.
Lisa and Carly Sandom from Essex, who had come to West End theatre district on Tuesday for their likely last chance of seeing a show this year, said they were dismayed by the new order.
“This is completely depressing. (I am) gutted for all the people that work for the theatres and the production. It’s awful,” said Carly.
Another viewer Jennifer Webb said she could not comprehend why theatres must close but shops, which are packed with holiday shoppers, are allowed to remain open.
“Really the shops … should be the places that are closed and the theatres, that are managing everything beautifully to get audiences in … should be the places that are open.”