Six producer Kenny Wax said on Wednesday afternoon, “We are very disappointed to have received the news of the cancellation earlier today. The previous hour was spent telling the 60 members of our company that the job they were about to undertake has disappeared. We thank them for believing that we could do it. We know that in the end there is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our business and the Six Queendom [the name given to Six’s fanbase]. We look forward to better times. ”
Wax said the Six tour was designed not to generate income, but to get dozens of freelancers back to work. Two separate companies are said to have visited different sites, in accordance with the government’s latest security recommendations, and to remain in bubbles throughout the tour. Up to 300 cars were to be allowed on the scene, with a maximum of seven members of the public in each who could watch the show next to their vehicle. “So you’re sort of at a pop concert with your car,” said Wax, who compared it to a festival, with a picnic audience and watching the performance on giant screens. Similar venues have recently opened in London to offer live comedy shows as well as film screenings.
Wax said the cancellation underscored the “very volatile position” of the theater industry, which is “not helped by the lack of clarity about insurance because the government will not take out cancellation insurance. We run a big risk out of the edge of the diving board. “
The producer said the past few weeks have been “devastating” to the industry, with consultations on layoffs announced across the country, including the Royal Exchange in Manchester, Birmingham Racecourse and the Newcastle Theater Royal. He said the situation was particularly difficult for those starting out in the theater. Many freelancers have fallen into the cracks of the Self-Employed Income Support System (SEISS) because they have been self-employed for less than a year. “On Six, many of our young companies are coming straight out of theater school – we gave them their first job. They do not have a tax return to show their past earnings. They receive nothing. ”
Six has had extraordinary success since its breakup at the Edinburgh fringe in 2018. Its principle is that the wives of Henry VIII returned from the grave to form a group of girls, recovering their stories in a concert “histo-remix »Live. Created by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, the show took place at the Arts Theater in London’s West End from September 2018 to March this year, when theaters closed due to the coronavirus epidemic. The pandemic also cut short the British theater tour of Six, an Australian tour, performances on cruise ships and its first production on Broadway. The Broadway shutdown was announced just hours before the musical hosted its official opening night.
Wax remembers meeting the Broadway League trade association that day with dozens of other producers anticipating the impact of the pandemic. “I was sitting there thinking, our show opens in five hours. It’s a production of $ 5 million. I just want to go to the opening night. When he heard of a Covid-19 case on a Broadway show and other producers expressed their fears, he quickly understood the seriousness of the situation. Wax quickly started shutting down its other shows, including the popular Goes Wrong series from Mischief Theater. “I think I shot 12 of my productions around the world in 36 hours.”
Wax, who is also president of the Society of London Theaters, said that many people in the industry have been lobbying for theater since March and that he has told government how delicate the ecology of theater is. . “Everything is connected by very complex strands,” he said. “A lot of work has been done to try to explain how the different elements of the business are connected. ”
The announcement of the government’s £ 1.57 billion bailout for the arts has focused on protecting organizations and institutions, and there has been much talk of protecting the “crown jewels” of the theatrical landscape. . “Of course we want to preserve the place, but these are just empty buildings without the production going on,” said Wax. “Part of this money must be allocated to the resumption of shows. “
Questions remain, he said, about how the package will be divided. “Will the Canada Council just take care of big theaters or will it find something to restart production companies?” He suggested that the funds were intended to allow organizations to travel until the spring, when regular indoor performances may be able to resume and that “the industry can restart properly.” This approach, he said, “is not really about putting work back but about ensuring that buildings across the country are staffed when the checkered flag is raised. The problem is that the flag can only be raised if the independent producers have the money to put on new shows or start over the previous ones… It’s money they have to find out of nowhere. ”
The theater, he said, was essential to the recovery of central London. “If the theaters open, tourists return and the West End will be officially open for business. Theaters are the crown jewel of London and we have to bring our tourists back to London as soon as it is safe. “