British Theatre Guide
News, reviews, features and podcast on theatre across the UK
Birmingham REP: talks start on job losses
Birmingham REP has warned that 40% of its staff are facing redundancy—which means that more than 40 people could be out of a job.
NE Theatres: Coronavirus update
Latest statements from some NE theatres about reopening plans / intentions.
The Customs House prepares
South Shields’ Customs House has prepared for post-lockdown reopening.
Consett Empire to remain closed until 2021
Consett's Empire Theatre and Cinema will remain closed until next year.
Panto Season 2020: COVID-19 (updated 10 July)
Simon Sladen keeps track of Panto Season 2020's cancellations, postponements and title changes due to Covid-19.
Gala extends COVID closure
Durham’s Gala extends its temporary closure until 2021.
Arts Council emergency support for North East theatre
Arts Council England has revealed the emergency support it has given to NE theatre during the coronavirus pandemic.
Emergency funds for Nottingham Playhouse
Nottingham Playhouse has been awarded £295,930 by Arts Council England to help ensure its financial security while it is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Vic postpones new play until April 2021
A new play based on the life of Staffordshire hero Neil “Nello” Baldwin,
has been postponed by Newcastle-under-Lyme’s New Vic Theatre until April 2021.
Hereford theatre gets £80,000 Arts Council grant
The Courtyard Hereford has received £80,000 from Arts Council England to protect its survival until September 2020.
Blackpool Grand launches recovery fund
Blackpool's Grand Theatre, the oldest theatre in the town, has launched a recovery fund to help it to survive after more than 100 days of closure.
“Uplifting” message from Midlands venues
Two Midlands theatres joined venues across the UK in being lit up in red in a message of hope for the sector and solidarity with all freelancers, artists and event staff.
Cheltenham theatre welcomes rescue package
Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre has joined organisations across the country in welcoming the government’s announcement of a support package for the arts and cultural sector.
Birmingham REP looks forward to creating new shows
Birmingham REP has “wholeheartedly” welcomed the government’s £1.57 billion support package for the UK’s cultural organisations and says it can now look forward to creating new shows.
Manchester Mayor Burnham responds to Royal Exchange redundancy announcement
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said he is "saddened" by the announcement from the Royal Exchange Theatre that it may have to make up to 65% of its staff redundant.
RSC gives thumbs up to government support package
The Royal Shakespeare Company has welcomed the government’s £1.57 billion support package to help protect theatres, galleries, museums and other cultural venues.
Government pledges £1.57 billion arts rescue package of grants and loans
Following recent reports of theatres going into liquidation and making mass redundancies to survive, the Government has announced a long-awaited rescue package of around £880 million in grants and £270 in 'repayable finance' (loans) for the UK's "vital cultural and heritage organisations".
Light It In Red!
Venues across the UK are to be lit up in red to highlight the plight of businesses and workers in the events industry.
West Midlands calls on government to fund arts
Arts organisations in the West Midlands have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden calling for “investment and funding” in the arts and a “revision of guidelines to provide clarity and permission for work to restart”.
The Mousetrap to re-open in October
, the world's longest running play, is to reopen in the West End on 23 October using ‘social distancing’ in accordance with Government guidelines.
Royal Exchange announces up to 65% redundancies
Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre has announced that it is to "enter a period of redundancy consultation", which may result in the loss of up to 65% of current staff.
Malvern Theatres’ £100,000 lifeline
Audiences and supporters have raised £100,000 for Malvern Theatres’ COVID-19 appeal—and the venue is looking to raise a similar amount before Christmas to ensure its viability.
Clive Rowe behind Hackney Empire crowdfunding campaign
Clive Rowe is amongst the celebrities supporting Hackney Empire's fundraising effort.
Future Arts Centres says arts centres can kickstart cultural recovery
Easy to implement steps could see community focussed activities kickstart the cultural recovery.
Jermyn Street Theatre's doors are bolted until 2021
London's Jermyn Street Theatre will not reopen this year “in the absence of any news from government”.
Kenneth Branagh supports South Hill Park
Bracknell's South Hill Park Arts Centre launches fundraising campaign with help of patron Sir Kenneth Branagh.
Grinning Mask raises more than a smile
designer Jon Bausor has launched show-inspired masks for theatrical charities.
Dowden’s theatre reopening plan: "not a roadmap, it's a fantasy gap year"
National advisory public body for theatres The Theatres Trust has responsed to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden’s five point plan "to raise the curtain on live performances".
Cumbernauld Theatre delays opening
Cumbernauld has an extended wait for new performing arts venue.
Curve postpones Wizard of Oz until 2021
Leicester’s Curve theatre has announced “with great sadness” that its Christmas production of
The Wizard of Oz
has been postponed until 2021.
Chester Storyhouse plans early opening
Storyhouse, an arts centre in Chester that incorporates a theatre, cinema, library and restaurant, has announced that it will reopen as soon as the government allows, possibly as early as 4 July.
Leading actors join calls to support Octagon appeal
Ian McKellen, Sue Johnston, Sharon D Clarke, Matthew Kelly and more have sent messages of support for the theatre, which has so far raised more than £40,000 for its crowdfunder appeal.
HOME announces plans for reopening
HOME Manchester has announced plans to reopen its cinemas, bars and restaurant on 4 September, with theatre and gallery programmes to restart later in autumn.
Lowry pledges support for all contracted staff
Lowry CEO Julia Fawcett has pledged support for the arts centre's contracted workforce until the building can reopen, vowing that “coronavirus WON’T defeat us—but Government must act!”
Warwick students take up challenge to save theatres
Students from the University of Warwick in Coventry have organised a national fundraising campaign to help support the arts industry.
Redundancy consultations at Newcastle Theatre Royal
The Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust has begun consulting staff about redundancies.
North East artists create 24-hour loneliness project
Artists from across the North East join in creating a 24-hour project about loneliness before and during the pandemic.
COVID-inspired song wins writing contest
The Mercury Theatre Colchester and Perfect Pitch song writing contest has been won by Willy Mukendi, Joseph Riley and Millie Millington for "Alone".
More cancellations and redundancies in Keswick
Theatre by the Lake has cancelled its Christmas production of
and is making staff redundancies to help it to survive the current closure.
Jobs to go at Birmingham Hippodrome
Birmingham Hippodrome chief executive Fiona Allan has revealed she has had to take the “very difficult and heartbreaking conclusion” that jobs have to go and more than 60 staff may be made redundant.
Theatres Trust calls for extension to furlough scheme
The phasing out of the Job Retention Scheme will see redundancies, bankruptcies and the closure of more theatres.
Chesterfield theatres get grant to reopen
Chesterfield Borough Council has secured £35,000 from the Arts Council’s emergency response fund to support the reopening of the town’s theatres when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
RSC helps celebrate Barney Voices
Members of the RSC cast of
The Winter’s Tale
help celebrate Barnard Castle’s experience of lockdown.
RSC closes until October and puts back winter shows
The Royal Shakespeare Company has called off all remaining events until October 2020 and also postponed productions during its autumn and winter season.
Malvern appeal halfway towards £100,000 target
Malvern Theatres’ COVID-19 fundraising appeal has raised more than £50,000 in donations from audiences and supporters and is hoping to hit the £100,000 mark.
Leicester theatre goes into liquidation
Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre has become a victim of coronavirus and gone into liquidation—only two years after reopening.
Curve to stay shut until October
Leicester’s Curve theatre is to remain closed for performances until Saturday 31 October 2020.
Nottingham’s Classic Thriller Season called off
For what is believed to be the first time in its history, the Classic Thriller Season at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham—due to be held in July and August, 2020—has been cancelled.
Families in Wales invited to join new Theatr Iolo project
Specialist in theatre for young people, Theatr Iolo, asks families to help create
Twenty20: Experiences of an Extraordinary Year
Malvern Theatres launches survival appeal
Malvern Theatres has launched a COVID-19 appeal fund after warning of a devastating loss for audiences, the local community and economy if they were to close long-term.
Young people reimagine the future in Derby
Young people in Derby are being provided with a professional online platform to share their ideas of a reimagined future beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Critical" few months for Malvern Theatres
Malvern Theatres has opened an emergency fundraising appeal to help secure its future because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Trio unite to sing number from Nottingham show Piaf
Three actors who should have been performing in
at Nottingham Playhouse and Leeds Playhouse have come together for an exclusive performance of one of the songs from the production, "Hymne a L' Amour".
London's West End closed until 28 June
Central London's theatres remain dark for another seven weeks.
Timothy O’Shea delays Edinburgh departure
Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea remains chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society as a result of pandemic.
Chichester cancels Festival 2020 productions
Chichester Festival Theatre, which had been due to reopen in July with
, has cancelled all scheduled Festival 2020 productions.
Royal and Derngate starts fundraising appeal
Northampton’s Royal and Derngate has begun a fundraising appeal asking audiences to help it to “navigate the challenging times facing the cultural sector”.
Working with young people during lockdown
How Northumberland-based Mortal Fools has continued its work with young people and in professional development in spite of the lockdown.
Theatre Means Business—the industry prepares for its comeback
Industry bodies SOLT and UK Theatre have launched a web site of information and training webinars to support those working on their post-lockdown strategy.
Live CEO delays departure
Jim Beirne, Chief Executive Officer of Live Theatre, has delayed his planned departure because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Agreement to support West End theatre
West End cast members' jobs protected by new agreement to support reopening theatres after lockdown.
Octagon reopening delayed
Bolton's Octagon Theatre's reopening following major development works has been put back from July to late autumn.
Plans under way for Buxton Festival 2021
Staff at Buxton International Festival have already started to plan a programme for 2021 after cancelling the 2020 event because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Give blood at Theatr Clwyd
Wales’s largest producing theatre, Theatr Clwyd, is to be used by the Welsh Blood Service as a venue for blood donations.
RSC furloughs staff and cancels performances
The Royal Shakespeare Company has furloughed the majority of its staff, cancelled all performances up to 30 June and closed its Swan Theatre, Stratford until the autumn.
Arts Council England and BBC Arts collaborate over new work
Artists have until 8 April to apply for funding to create new work during the present health crisis.
Perform your own panto
Middle Child has made available resources so that every family can perform their own take on
The Little Mermaid
Elders get The Best Seat In The House
The Not Forgotten, a British Armed Forces charity, is behind an initiative to bring free twice-weekly entertainment initiative for older generations at home and in care.
Sheringham theatre postpones summer season
Sheringham’s Little Theatre has postponed its 60th anniversary summer season and is vowing to hold it in 2021.
New fundraising appeal at Nottingham Playhouse
Nottingham Playhouse has begun a new fundraising campaign to secure money for the overall running of the theatre.
Homemade micro-opera connects composers and librettists
New initiative #OperaHarmony is to pair composers with librettists across the world to create new work.
New date for Journal Awards
A new date has been announced for The Journal Culture Awards 2020.
Digital GIFT programme announced
This year’s Gateshead International Festival of Theatre (GIFT), which will be held online, has announced its programme.
Edinburgh 2020: all festivals are cancelled
Edinburgh Art Festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo have all announced they will not take place in 2020.
Theatre by the Lake cancels summer season
Keswick's Theatre by the Lake has decided to cancel its summer season, due to run from May to October.
Night of original work in Warwickshire
A night of original live performance is being organised by Shoot Festival which showcases “the best emerging talent in Coventry and Warwickshire”.
Polunin Romeo & Juliet at Royal Albert Hall rescheduled
After the enforced postponement of the original date, Sergei Polunin’s company, Polunin Ink, has rescheduled this one-night-only performance for May 2021.
Too Pretty To Punch on International Transgender Day of Visibility
Trans artist Edalia Day makes their work available digitally with
Too Pretty To Punch
online on 31 March, aptly International Transgender Day of Visibility.
Composers to write A Song for Our Time
Jason Robert Brown will select a newly written song for our time to be recorded for theatre charity, Acting for Others.
Olivier Awards retrospective replaces ceremony
Highlights from a decade of Olivier Awards will be broadcast on television and radio in place of the previously scheduled awards ceremony.
Theatr Clwyd Together | Theatr Clwyd Ynghyd
Theatr Clwyd reaches out with an initiative to encourage creativity in the local and wider community.
Leave A Light On: week 2 line-up
Lambert Jackson and The Theatre Café are presenting a series of concerts to be live-streamed to both entertain those in self-isolation and provide some financial support to the artists involved.
Hopes that Buxton Fringe will continue
Buxton Festival Fringe has announced it will do its best to go ahead in some form in 2020 and has introduced key changes.
Birmingham students create online drama classes
First-year students studying applied theatre at Birmingham City University have created DIY drama classes online for children and their parents to encourage them to take part in teaching together at home during the coronavirus crisis.
Oddsocks goes online with past performances
Derby company Oddsocks is waiting for news about performances in the summer before it decides whether its tour of Shakespeare’s
The Comedy of Errors
can go ahead.
NSDF goes virtual for 2020
The National Student Drama Festival will move online for 2020 with the support of artists and speakers including Emma Rice, Mark Ravenhill, Laura Wade and April De Angelis.
Sadler’s Wells takes to the Digital Stage
Sadler’s Wells has released new dance content and workshops on Digital Stage, its free online performance platform, following the cancellation of shows due to COVID-19.
News from Cardiff
Cardiff's Sherman Theatre announces an evolving project aimed at artists affected by the coronavirus lockdown; and a Robinson Crusoe-inspired play is made available to view online.
Habit of Art and The Croft to share online run
Original Theatre Company's productions of Alan Bennett's
The Habit of Art
and Ali Milles's
, both cut short due to the closure of the theatres, will have a limited run online until June.
Headlong and Century bring leading playwrights to isolated audiences
Headlong with Century Films will live-stream new works from playwrights including April De Angelis, James Graham, Chloë Moss and Duncan Macmillan in
Unprecedented: Real Time Theatre From a State of Isolation
A digital festival of dance from Leicester
Let’s Dance International Frontiers, the annual dance festival in Leicester, is going ahead online with a digital festival of dance.
Nottingham Playhouse videos to keep audiences engaged
A series of videos is being released by Nottingham Playhouse to keep communities in the East Midlands engaged with the arts.
See HOME at home with new online commissions
Manchester's HOME has announced Homemakers, a series of new commissions from artists including Bryony Kimmings, Theatre Ad Infinitum, Javaad Alipoor and Plaster Cast Theatre to be received by audiences in their homes.
Midlands theatre closures: update
The Royal Shakespeare Company has confirmed that all performances have been cancelled until Thursday 30 April.
Welcome to the Coronavirus Theatre Club
Three North East actors are taking work online to keep actors, writers and directors busy during the coronavirus outbreak
Free online ballet and opera from Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House has announced a free programme of curated online broadcasts, musical masterclasses and cultural insights on Facebook and YouTube.
Housetrap brings immersive theatre into the home
Immersive LDN, a West End venue that creates "theatre-led immersive experiences", will deliver theatre from and to living rooms with Housetrap Theatre and Arts Festival.
LIFT 2020 cancelled
This summer's LIFT biennial festival of international theatre, due to take place in London in June and July, has been cancelled.
Hampstead to stream I and You free for a week
Hampstead Theatre is to stream its production of
I and You
by Lauren Gunderson, starring Maisie Williams and Zach Wyatt, on Instagram for free from Monday 23 to Sunday 29 March 2020.
Opening week of streaming concerts announced
Leave A Light On
, the series of online streamed concerts from West End Performers from Lambert Jackson Productions and Theatre Café, has announced its first week's schedule.
Stage stars take to the web on Shakespeare Day
Theatre Together, a new collective of more than 50 artists and professionals, will produce
All the Web’s a Stage
, an online event to raise money for those in the arts facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thriller Live to leave West End
Michael Jackson tribute show
is to close for good in the West End after 11 years, three shows short of becoming the 11th longest running West End musical ever.
Northampton venue releases album for new digital musical
Northampton’s Royal and Derngate is to release a concept album for a new digital musical called
Theatre and comedy you can watch for free online
Since the theatres were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, lots of performers have released their work online, much of it free although some are asking for donations.
The Gateshead International Festival of Theatre goes online
Gateshead International Festival of Theatre (GIFT) will still be going ahead between 1–3 May—online, as a digital festival.
balletLORENT cancels tour
balletLORENT has cancelled its tour of
The Lost Happy Endings
King's Head Theatre keeps going online
The show may be temporarily over, but the King's Head lays claim to be London's first pub theatre that keeps in touch with its audience with a live transmission every weekday.
Papatango new writing initiatives during theatre closures
Papatango Theatre Company has announced a series of initiatives around new writing including open commissions for monologues, free circulation of 60 new play texts and free advice on Arts Council applications.
SOLT and UK Theatre collaborate on support site for theatre professionals
A microsite, theatresupport.info, has been created by the Society of West End Theatres and UK Theatre to collate information and signpost useful resources relating to the shutdown due to the coronavirus.
The Bard goes online, live-streamed
The Show Must Go Online
is an online group that will read the complete plays of William Shakespeare in the order they were written, live-streamed on YouTube.
Olivier Awards cancelled
The Society of London Theatres (SOLT) has announced that it has cancelled the 2020 Olivier Awards, due to take place at the Royal Albert Hall on 5 April.
Cancelled Habit of Art to be available to download
The Original Theatre Company’s production of Alan Bennett’s
The Habit Of Art,
which was due to open in Eastbourne on 18 March with Matthew Kelly and David Yelland, will now perform a closed filmed performance which will be available for download.
More Midlands theatre closures
Derby Theatre has called off its major Easter production, Theresa Heskins’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s
More NE theatre closures (Update no 8)
More North East theatres are closing due to the coronavirus.
Coronavirus: Midlands theatre closures
Theatres in the Midlands are calling off shows in the light of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's speech telling people to stay away from public places.
Live streamed concerts will keep actors in work during closures
Lambert Jackson Productions and The Theatre Café have announced a series of intimate, piano vocal concerts,
Leave a Light On
, to be streamed live from The Theatre Café to keep actors in paid work during theatre closures.
Coronavirus: NW theatre closures
Following Boris Johnson's recommendation that people stay away from theatres, many NW venues have closed, but the situation is still uncertain and constantly changing.
UK theatres go dark following Boris Johnson's advice to audiences to stay away
Boris Johnson's speech telling people to stay away from public places such as pubs, restaurants and theatres has seen theatres close around the country.
Coronavirus: NE theatre closures
Some North East theatres have announced that they will be closing with immediate effect.
EIF delays 2020 programme launch
Edinburgh International Festival has delayed the announcement of its 2020 programme for "a number of weeks" due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
Arcola suspends all performances and appeals for donations
London's Arcola Theatre has suspended all public performances until further notice to avoid contributing to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and asked for donations to help it survive closure.
Opening Open-Air Theatres (or not)
Philip Fisher asks whether the new rules on open-air theatres are anything more than a gimmick.
"PANTOMIMES" hit the headlines
As the Government announce a £1.57 billion investment in the arts, Simon Sladen reports on pantomime hitting the headlines and ponders what a socially-distanced panto season might look like.
Don’t uncork the champagne just yet...
Philip Fisher offers an instant response to the Government's bailout package for the arts sector.
We’re on the Roadmap to Nowhere
Philip Fisher is alarmed by the government's failure to address the impending closure of theatres and mass redundancies in the arts.
Read 'em and weep
National news editor and London reviewer Sandra Giorgetti finds the recent figures announced by OffWestEnd brings tears to her eyes.
Theatre re-openings: uncertainty, confusion and even a little hope
Philip Fisher reports on a series of very recent developments, including the Government's first attempt at a plan for the future.
Cinema but not theatre. Why?
Peter Lathan considers why theatres are not allowed to open when cinemas can.
What about the actors?
As ever, it’s the actors and other freelance workers who are forgotten in troubled times for theatres.
The art of letters – another missive for Dowden
National News Editor and London Reviewer Sandra Giorgetti is monitoring the letters landing on the doormat of DCMS Minister, Oliver Dowden.
A plague on whose House?
National News Editor and London Reviewer Sandra Giorgetti looks at the response to the recently convened Cultural Renewal Taskforce.
Panto in Lockdown: A Roundup
Simon Sladen surveys the online pantomime initiatives keeping the genre alive during lockdown.
Sandra Giorgetti considers theatre at this time of crisis, particularly the smaller venues and rural touring.
Save Our Theatres
According to Sonia Friedman, "Theatre stands on the brink of ruin". Philip Fisher echoes her plea for government support before it is too late.
Philip Fisher looks at the future and fears a long wait before theatres across the UK reopen.
Let’s not confuse theatres with Theatre
Peter Lathan responds to the suggestion that theatres may not be able to re-open until 2021.
Lamentations of an isolated theatrical
Peter Lathan explores how well (or otherwise) he is living with isolation.
Ain't nothing like the real thing
David Cunningham explains why the online world can never make up for what he personally is currently missing from live theatre.
One-star review for government's aid for self-employed workers
Sandra Giorgetti gives the government's aid for self-employed workers a one star review.
The Play’s (Not) the Thing
Philip Fisher introduces his new weekly column with some thoughts about the consequences of current theatre closures.