The first building to be packed was the National Theater on London’s south bank, where casual staff outside the house and behind the scenes were informed on Friday that they were letting go. The NT stated that it was unable to continue paying them beyond August due to changes to the coronavirus retention system, and added that staff roles were now at risk to be redundant.
On Friday, the other theaters will be closed: the Royal Exchange in Manchester, which predicted this week that it could cut 65% of its permanent roles; Royal Plymouth Theater, where 100 jobs are at risk due to the closure of Covid-19; and the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, which announced in May that it is “entering a period of hibernation to conserve the limited resources we have during the dark winter of Covid-19”. The Lyric in Belfast and the Sherman Theater in Cardiff will also be closed on Friday, with other theaters taking part in the initiative later in July.
The project was created by the Scene / Change community, which has more than 1,000 members, including leading set and costume designers such as Es Devlin, Bunny Christie, Rae Smith and Tom Piper. The community said the designers will play a vital role in “the transformation that will see the reopening and reinvention of theaters” in the future. It aims to connect theaters with local designers for the on-site installation of the pink barrier tape, which will remain around each theater for a week before being removed and reused in another theater.
Matthew Warchus, artistic director of the Old Vic in London, said he was delighted to support the campaign: “Theaters are the lifeblood of the communities in which they sit, buzzing day and night with people at the search for consolation, inspiration, escape, pleasure and entertainment. education. It is heartbreaking that these creative spaces, like our own beloved 202-year-old theater, remain closed to all those who make the theater so special. Along with the creators who created #scenechange, we hope this campaign will remind people of the joy of live theater. “