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If you were in charge of opening theatres and live venues WWYD?

(78 Posts)
cathyandclare Thu 18-Jun-20 09:46:52

I love the theatre and have many friends in the industry. The London West End theatres are a big attraction for tourists and the National, Globe, Stratford and Young and Old Vics and regional centres like the Lowri, Curve, Leeds Playhouse, Crucible and many others produce world- class theatre.

The SD guidelines make it impossible to open currently. I think they need 60% occupancy to make opening worthwhile. Without financial support and innovative ways of opening safely there could be no theatre when we stop social distancing.

The govt announced a review this week to come up with ideas- so MNetters please give me your blue-sky-thinking ideas for how to get theatres up and running ASAP.

cathyandclare Thu 18-Jun-20 10:36:46

No ideas?

Here's my starter for ten and it only really works if they cut down to 1m.

Regular testing for cast members (like in football) and increased numbers of understudies/covers/swings.

Spacing of seating with empty seats- but this should be flexible ( so not just every other seat) with household group bookings attracting a discount because they could sit together with no spacing.

No sit in bar. Drinks only available in individual bottles etc to drink in your seat.

Masks and sanitiser for audience.

It's tough to make it a fun night out as well as safe!!!

Twothousandzerozero Thu 18-Jun-20 11:15:42

Watching this thread with interest. My job (pre DC!) was closely linked with this industry and I’m a lifelong theatre fan - I feel for those working in the arts SO much. The uncertainty must be awful.

I think you’ve raised some really good suggestions OP. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but is there any way productions could be screened, or streamed (sort of in the way football is now being played “behind closed doors”) - I would certainly pay to watch at home - particularly shows from places that I haven’t been able to visit for a while, like the West End. Or is performing with no audience present just too soul-destroying? I genuinely don’t know.

Sorry not to be more help but hopefully your post will get a good discussion going.

CrowdedHouseinQuarantine Thu 18-Jun-20 11:17:08

outdoor theatre,
obviously spacing for seats,some london theatres are very cramped

LaurieFairyCake Thu 18-Jun-20 11:27:47

The Victorian theatres are the ones I love the most - they're the most cramped but so atmospheric sad

I think they should just triple the price (I always get really cheap tickets at £15/£20) and have a third full - in the interim until there's a vaccine

I want them to survive more than I want cheap tickets right now - if that means I only get to go once a year instead of 6 times I will happily swallow it

I love the idea of discounts for households who can sit together 👍🏻

cathyandclare Thu 18-Jun-20 11:32:41

I want them to survive more than I want cheap tickets right now - if that means I only get to go once a year instead of 6 times I will happily swallow it

I feel the same. Anything that will help theatre (and live music, opera and ballet) survive.

Pootles34 Thu 18-Jun-20 11:33:34

I think outdoor theatres and drive through cinemas might have something in them - its just the great british weather that's a problem!

Discounts for households sitting together is a great idea - I wonder as well if boxes could be used more widely?

cathyandclare Thu 18-Jun-20 11:35:05

Outdoor theatre

We're right into the usual Regents Park open air season and Scarborough, Glyndebourne and the touring outdoor Shakespeares- would be good if these could pave the way.

ohthegoats Thu 18-Jun-20 11:36:23

cathyandclare Thu 18-Jun-20 11:39:25

DD suggested that cast housing for small shows could work in the short term. They would all become a household, so wouldn't need to be socially distant. It's a bit grim for them, but I suppose similar to touring companies.

cathyandclare Thu 18-Jun-20 11:45:49

@ohthegoats that's a bit grim isn't it? They'd have to really ramp up the ticket prices to allow for that kind of 2m social distancing.

I think my flexible group idea would improve the use of space, especially if the government introduce bubbles.

EdithWeston Thu 18-Jun-20 11:46:47

Online subscription to performances

With an additional premium supporter package that guarantees you X number of tickets at RL performances, ballot for any remaining tickets, additional online content and Xnumber of share tokens to you can invite a friend to the online theatre.

That share token idea is important - lots of people have been discovering online content for the first time during lockdown. These people are likely candidates for luring in to paid subscriptions if you can get them through the 'door' the first time.

And once you have online option running well, you can keep it going in perpetuity (as cheaply as viable) for people who cannot attend in person.

They do need to be packaged as performances, with special times/dates and frills attached. Not just a YouTube channel look-alike. And do look at what the Hay Festival 2020 did.

Lucindainthesky Thu 18-Jun-20 11:48:53

Currently furloughed from a regional theatre and I just don't see how it can work until social distancing is over.

Even when theatres are deemed safe to reopen with distancing no company is going to want to tour if only a small proportion of the auditorium can be filled, it just wouldn't be financially viable for them. Even with 1m distancing the capacity would be greatly reduced.

Ticket prices could be hiked but I'm not sure there would be enough patrons willing to pay 3 times as much or whatever and I'm sure producers would feel the same.

Family groups could certainly sit together to increase capacity but would mean an overhaul of booking systems, will venues be able to afford to implement that at the moment?

It's an absolute nightmare.

nether Thu 18-Jun-20 11:49:22

See if you can get 2m waived indoors. 1m and masks.

Perhaps as a quid pro quo you could offer free subscription to the shielded community for whom under 2m (or anything indoors) might be unsafe for quite a time to come.

CrowdedHouseinQuarantine Thu 18-Jun-20 11:52:14

do many people go to theatres on their own? looking at the seat spacing? surely they wont need so many individual seats. more likely doubles, and so on

TheDailyCarbuncle Thu 18-Jun-20 11:53:29

I think we should all be treated like thinking adults who can make our own decisions and the permission to live our lives rather than hiding away in fear should be returned to us.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Thu 18-Jun-20 11:57:34

Tbh I am a bit pessimistic about the possibility of there being some clever way of opening to make it viable that they won’t have thought of- I think what is really needed is a package of medium term financial help.

Lucindainthesky Thu 18-Jun-20 11:58:04

Lots of people go to the theatre by themselves. All seating options would still be needed. Also, audience confidence is a big factor - the demographic of theatre goers is weighted towards older people.

CrowdedHouseinQuarantine Thu 18-Jun-20 12:00:10

So far actors are doing zoom productions, and plays for radio. voice overs no doubt.
my dm is member of a theatre club, they go by coach to the theatre.
that is another quandry.
cancelled so far.
I imagine a trip to the theatre is going to cost a fortune in future.

ohthegoats Thu 18-Jun-20 12:10:25

@cathyandclarecathyandclare that's a bit grim isn't it?

When it's like that, yes. But it could look quite good with tables, plants etc filling the gaps? I'd quite like it as an experience. Not sure I'd want to pay the prices!

cathyandclare Thu 18-Jun-20 12:20:05

I lIke your thinking Ohthegoats!

We went to see Cabaret in NYC. The theatre had been converted into a cabaret bar with individual tables and you could have wine and watch. the tables were far enough apart to let Emcee wander through, so probably 1m. It was really cool. I wonder if that could work? With whole bottles only and disposable plastic glasses. Could help make money too. We booked a whole table for 4. There were some bigger and smaller tables and some sharing tables which obviously wouldn't work now.

It would be a different experience -but maybe worth paying more for too... like being at an awards ceremony.

cologne4711 Thu 18-Jun-20 12:24:54

Isn't there something in France called cafetheatre - sounds a bit like the cabaret thing cathy mentioned.

I don't know what you can do for standard theatres (and cinemas) though.

I'd not want to wear a mask for two hours or so, I'd rather not bother. I am happy enough to wear a face covering for 10 minutes while I pop round Waitrose but not to watch a concert or play.

cathyandclare Thu 18-Jun-20 12:25:07

How does wine work with masks??

Lucindainthesky Thu 18-Jun-20 12:25:43

I doubt many venues could afford to invest in tables and plants at the moment!

Hercwasonaroll Thu 18-Jun-20 12:28:15

I'd pay for an online stream performance. Perhaps they could have a socially distant (1m) audience and also stream.

There will need to be some financial support surely, whatever happens.

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