Reopening - with a cut-out celebrity audience

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The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury has commissioned an artist to create its own celebrity audience in preparation for a socially-distanced reopening in June.

Whitstable-based artist Ben Dickson has been commissioned to create 50 portraits of famous Kentish figures to fill the seats that cannot be used under ongoing Covid restrictions instead of the familiar “no entry” notices. He was given a deadline of one month, and has chosen a mixture of artists, actors, musicians, dancers, writers, comedians, politicians and historical figures, all associated in some way with Kent.

So you can find yourself sitting next to Mick Jagger, Jane Austen, Tracey Emin, Roger Moore, Jo Brand, Geoffrey Chaucer and even Winston Churchill. “I loved creating the cut-outs and creating such a diverse mix of audience members for The Marlowe’s auditorium” said Dickson. “Despite the challenge of creating 50 portraits in one month, this has been a dream job for a portrait artist”.

The commission is sponsored by the Kent company Walker Construction. 

“We didn’t want our audiences coming back to an empty-looking auditorium with no atmosphere and lots of rules and regulations” said Deborah Shaw, chief executive of the Marlowe. “Ben’s cut-out characters work brilliantly and add to the fun – you don’t know who you might end up sitting next to. More seriously, I love that he’s created a unique artwork that is greater than the sum of its parts. Somehow it reflects the creativity, ingenuity and sense of community that theatre is all about.”  




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