It is undeniably the case that theatre is facing an impossible task in trying to open shows at a time of rising infection rates. The costs, both financial and on the spirit, are huge. But even the fact it keeps trying is grounds for cheerfulness. Here are just 10 good reasons for optimism and confidence.
Theatre people are enormously nimble and resilient. The industry has survived plague in the past, and it will survive this one. It may be bowed but it is carrying on regardless; indeed even regardless in the face of perpetual government incompetence.
The delight on audience’s faces as they lean forward in an auditorium for the first time again, either inside or out.
The fact that the groundlings will be returning to Shakespeare’s Globe. It feels a bit like ravens returning to the Tower of London. Yep, I know the current Globe was only opened in 1997, but having the groundlings back (£5 tickets too) feels like a direct connection with the Southbank of 400 years ago which itself faced uncertain times and triumphed.
The joyous Operation Mincemeat is at the ever-resilient Southwark Playhouse, and it has been extended.
Front of house staff in theatres. Keeping cool (even in last week’s heatwave) about keeping audiences safe.
The Yard and the New Diorama are both turning 10 this year and have not just survived against the odds but have proved themselves crucial to London’s new work ecology, and demonstrating generosity with it.
That so many theatres are recognising that digital has a place in their programmes, and that it extends reach and makes theatre more inclusive. That is a huge shift from 16 months ago. Digital was always something that they were going to get round to when they had the time, the headspace and the money. They haven’t had the money, but they have done it anyway. And it has not turned out to be so hard.
The Lion King re-opens in the West End this week. Such a great family show to inspire the next generation of theatre-goers and theatre-makers. Lovely too to see Matilda and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child heading back too.
Emma Rice has got a new show. Bagdad Café at the Old Vic.
Paines Plough’s Roundabout may not be at Summerhall in Edinburgh this year but instead will be in Brixton with a great programme of shows including Chris Bush’s Hungry and Chinonyerem Odimba’s Black Love, a homage to black music. Lucky London.