Under Tier 3 restrictions, London theaters enter another lockdown as the holidays approach

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Although theaters in London have begun to welcome socially distant audiences once again – and the early stages of vaccine distribution offer hope of raising the curtains in 2021 – the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic still underscore the unpredictability and the stop-and-go nature of the art form. come back. As the UK government places London on its Level 3 alert level, West End theaters will (again) have to close from December 16, with no clear timetable on how this new shutdown will be lifted.

Julian Bird, managing director of the Society of London Theater and UK Theater umbrella organizations, says the new closure will cause “catastrophic financial hardship for theaters, producers and thousands of workers in the industry, especially freelancers who represent 70 % theater. Workforce. He continues, “We urge the government to recognize the enormous pressure this has placed on the industry and consider swift compensation to protect theaters and their staff over Christmas.” ”

London productions of different scales managed to return after dark in March, albeit for much smaller crowds and with a litany of public safety protocols. In the West End, the fan favorite Six has been holding a temporary court at the Lyric Theater since December 5; Everybody’s talking about Jamie returned to the Apollo Theater on December 12 (both had scheduled reopening dates, but were shut down due to lockdowns in November). A concert staged by Wretched open as planned on December 5 at the Sondheim Theater.

Other London venues, such as the National Theater and the Old Vic, have taken a digital approach, with the former presenting its first panto (Dick Whittington) in person and virtually and these latest streaming performances (including A Christmas Carol) live from its auditorium.

Sonia Friedman, joined Bird and several other heavy-duty producers in the UK in expressing her disapproval of the new measure, especially as theaters’ contact tracing systems have not linked any cases of infection to the participation in a show. “All the effort and energy, not to mention the expense, to reopen shows safely has once again been compromised by a decision that will devastate our industry and its independent workforce – many of whom have still not received government support and now face further job loss, ”she said. Friedman was the producer of The return from comedy duo The Pin, who had started performances at the Noël Coward Theater earlier this month.

Across the Pond, Broadway shows are closed until at least May 30, 2021.

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