To support your local independent theatre, is more important than ever. COVID-19 has had an explosively bad effect on England’s theatres, and all other areas of the arts. Of course, when a cast creates a play, it can’t socially distance. So unless it’s a one-person monologue (and you can’t have bums on seats next to each other), it’s a recipe for disaster. So although things move slowly, there are ways to support indie theatres.
Theatres are a huge part of our history. Don’t forget that people did not read Shakespeare in the old days, they visited the theatre to watch actors perform. The bard himself was not just a writer, but also an actor. He was also by all accounts – a property developer and a strong campaigner for social justice, let’s leave that for another day. But suffice to say – if he were alive today, he would not be taking away furlough from theatre managers at a time when they need it.
You don’t have to live in London to visit a theatre. Most towns have one, you can find a full list of the main ones at the Independent Theatre Council, which represents its member theatres with practical and professional support. So how you can help theatres, when you’re not allowed to visit them?
- If you have any spare cash yourself, you could donate to one of the many theatre charities. If you don’t have cash to spare and are passionate about the arts, switch your search engine to Everyclick, sign up your local non-profit theatre or theatre charity, then sponsors donate for each search.
- Many theatre producers and actors worldwide join Patreon. This is sort of like crowdfunding. ‘Fans’ contribute different amounts (you choose) and get ‘goodies’ in return. So say your theatre was out-of-bounds. People who paid £10 a month may get free online plays, people who paid £50 a month may get play scripts sent to them. And companies who sponsored you at £100 a month may get a year’s worth of free tickets, when you open again. It’s basically thanking in advance.
- Some theatres allow you to buy tickets in advance, ready for when they can re-open. This is a bit like community-supported-agriculture.
- As laws start to eventually relax, check out local outdoor theatres (Regent’s Park has a good one). These are safer, as you can watch outside from a distance (Passion Plays follow the story of Christ open-air. If you’ve seen Jesus of Montreal, you’ll be up-to-speed.
- If government has money to paint planes in the middle of a pandemic, it has money to spend on those who need it. Write to your MP and demand that people in trouble are financially cushioned. Actors make us laugh and cry while MPs make us angry. Many people in politics don’t understand the power of a song, play or poem; more fool them.
- Many theatres are now streaming their plays online, visit Digital Theatre to sign on, or sign up!