The Theatre Crisis Now Unfolding
Written by Adrian Cohen
As Upstage Online camp got underway this week, the economic bad news sweeping the world continued, and it is clear that one sector of the economy which is close to home for our community, is on its knees. Theatres all around the U.S. are facing closure because as we tentatively get back to a new normal, those sectors requiring large numbers of people to congregate will be the last to open. As discussed here before, social distancing and the performing arts are not natural bedfellows, and it’s anyone’s guess if theatres will open properly before the end of the year. In Los Angeles, a new consensus is starting to emerge: outside venues this Fall, and indoor venues January 2021.
I know that in the UK where there is so much live theatre, all the nominees for the prestigious Olivier Awards, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge and James McAvoy have written an open letter to the Prime Minister saying the sector is in real jeopardy and needs urgent government help. Phantom composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is determined to figure out how to open theatres safely. He has his revival of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium. He’s been looking at the National Theatre in South Korea which has stringent hygiene protocols in place, temperature checks, a light disinfectant spray which covers everyone, masks but no physical distancing. However the influential Broadway theatres in New York are resigned to open their doors next year as well.
So as we continue through the summer teaching musical theatre with our online acting classes, we shall all watch closely and pray theatres can open safely, as soon as possible and people will want to attend. The theatre world seriously contracting wouldn’t just create a jobs crisis for this sector, it would also be a great spiritual loss for our country.