RSC - no live theatre till 2021

The Royal Shakespeare Company announced today that its theatres in Stratford-on-Avon and London will not reopen before 2021 because of the Covid-19 crisis.

The announcement comes as hopes for a relaxation of social distancing rules in theatres would be relaxed soon were dashed. The company also announced that formal consultation will start with employees after the end of September when furloughing comes to an end, and from November 1 casual workers will not be paid with permanent staff retained but moved to variable contracts. The company will continue with its online and outdoor activities.

Although leading figures from teg theatre world, including Sir Nicholas Hytner and Sir Sam Mendes, had pleaded with the government to relax to two metre distancing rule for live indoor performance, they have been told there will be no change before November. Hytner’s Bridge Theatre in London has announced a limited new season with seating at 25% of capacity, about 50% too low to break even.

“Despite our wish to re-open our theatres by the end of the year, it is now clear that the ongoing pandemic and the continued need for social distancing mean that we will not be able to stage full RSC productions in our theatres before 2021” said artistic director Greg Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon in a joint statement. “We very much hope that the government review of social distancing measures in November will bring positive news for the industry, and provide a timeline for when we can welcome our audiences back into our theatres again.

‘It is with great sadness that we have now reached the stage where a formal consultation process with employees must take place to safeguard the long-term future of the company” the statement went on.  “We had hoped that things would have become more positive by now, but this has not been the case. 

“Every one of our colleagues makes the RSC the Company that it is, and every one contributes to its success.  They show exceptional talent, professionalism, skill, commitment and care at all times and we thank them for their ongoing support.”

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