Coronavirus updates



Don’t Blame the Playwrights

We all know who is to blame for the financial crisis afflicting many theatres—and it is not writers.
New Wolsey Theatre

Another Year, Another Crisis

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, there is a new funding disaster facing some theatres.
Protect the Heart of the Arts

“Alas, poor country!”

COVID is on the warpath again. Theatres and theatregoers need greater protection.
Sheridan Smith in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Theatre‘s 10 Plagues

Just when you think that it can't get worse, it does.
Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre

NT: A Roadmap to Prosperity

With every theatre in the country including the National struggling financially, our London Editor suggests a few practical solutions.
Hamlet at the National Theatre

Ain’t Misbehavin’?

Bad behaviour is now spreading across the arts but COVID may not be to blame.
Oldham Coliseum Theatre

Oldham Coliseum Theatre – RIP

It was inevitable that following harsh cuts by Arts Council England, some theatres would close. Oldham Coliseum is the first but is unlikely to be the last.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway

Reasons to be Cheerful

Philip Fisher shines a light on prospects for what could be a much better year.
Jodie Comer in Prima Facie

Things Can Only Get Better

The theatre world will be very happy to see the back of 2022, even if it was marginally better than its two precursors.
Le Malade Imaginaire

Remember COVID-19?

With COVID-19 making a comeback and flu also a concern, Philip Fisher wonders whether UK theatres should be trying harder.
Kathryn Hunter as King Lear

I Want My Money Back!

As theatres and patrons struggle financially, we take a look at customers' rights what we can reasonably expect in return for our money.
Soho Place Theatre

Green Shoots

In both London and New York, new ventures offer hope for a vibrant future.
The Play That Goes Wrong

Crystal ball gazing

The UK theatre scene has undergone a great shock over the last two years. What might it look like going forward?
Digital Access to Arts and Culture

Give and take

Sandra Giorgetti reviews the recommendations of Digital Access to Arts and Culture, a new report from Loughborough and Kent universities funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Audience for Diana on Broadway

Remember COVID-19?

Who has got it right? On Broadway, masks are compulsory, but in the West End, coronavirus is largely ignored.
Legally Blonde at the Open Air Theatre

Let the Sunshine in

Global warming is an unmitigated disaster for the planet but, in the short term, may be good news for theatregoers.
Rob McClure in Mrs Doubtfire

Theatre post-COVID

The economy is tanking, but we we must all hope that theatres buck the trend.
Carrie Hope Fletcher as Cinderella, Laura Baldwin as Adele, Victora Hamilton-Barritt as The Stepmother and Georgina Castle as Marie

Midnight Comes Early for Cinderella

The closure of two major London shows is worrying for an ailing industry, while the insensitivity shown towards some Cinderella performers is an unnecessary embarrassment.
Homeground from HOME Manchester

Theatres during lockdown—across the UK

Following the Critics’ Circle lockdown theatre award, David Chadderton looks at what theatres were doing beyond London and the South East.
The two crews (theatre crew and touring crew) meet and introduce themselves at the start of the day

A day in the life of Theatre Royal Brighton

Photographer Danny Fitzpatrick spent the day at Theatre Royal Brighton as it reopened post-COVID with Footloose the Musical.
The Play That Goes Wrong

Comedy Tonight

After two years of incessant bad news, why is the West End almost completely bereft of comedies?
Simon Callow, Kerry Ellis, Denis Lawson and Bonnie Langford preparing for Anything Goes

Time to Hope or Another False Dawn?

Philip Fisher looks forward with a mixture of optimism and pessimism about UK theatre this year.
Kit Harington in Rehearsal as Henry V

Kit Harington’s Henry V Fails to Reach Agincourt

Philip Fisher reports on another high-profile postponement and ponders the way forward.
The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson

Redemption or a Knockout Punch

Philip Fisher fears that removing Plan B measures will do theatres no favours.
Alexandra Gilbreath and Sir Antony Sher in The Winter's Tale

From A Sad Tale to Spring Awakening

Philip Fisher looks forward to a return to normality sooner rather than later and reminds us of the pleasures that theatre can bring.
Tia Bannon and Danielle Vitalis in Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner (which should have been at Under the Radar)

Theatre in Crisis?

Philip Fisher reports on the latest news from the front line and sees little to generate optimism in the short term.
Peter Pan

Review of the Theatre Year... 2022

Rather than shedding tears over another disastrous year, Philip Fisher travels in time this week with a fantasy look back on the year to come.
Wilkins Mickawber

A Lifeline – but Not a Very Strong One

Once again, theatres are closing but the government's financial support package looks fatally inadequate.

Please Sir, I Want Some More

Philip Fisher suggests that, as Omicron wreaks havoc across the sector, government support for theatres is already overdue.
Les Misérables

When did Uncertainty Become the Peak of Ambition?

As theatres try to get back to normal, the threatening Omicron variant has come on to the horizon.
Boris Johnson

You Can’t Trust the Missus

As Omicron threatens Christmas, the Prime Minister is unmasked as Macbeth.
Jonny and the Baptists

Protecting Our Theatres

Philip Fisher wonders whether producers should be more proactive in defending themselves against coronavirus closure.
Marlowe Theatre receives £1m

Weasels take the credit: CRF3

Continuity Support and CRF 3 Emergency Resource Support announced this week.
The Plague Thing

Vaccine Pass(port)

Is it only a matter of time before the UK government follows Scotland and Wales and obliges theatres to demand vaccine passes?
James McAvoy in Cyrano

Ticket Prices

Inflation is sending ticket prices out of the range of normal theatre-goers, let alone the young, and could threaten diversity in the longer term.
Macbeth at the Almeida Theatre

Not Quite the Real Thing – but Nearly

Philip Fisher considers the current coronavirus statistics and reminds readers about a new, happy medium.
The Cast of The Mirror and the Light

The Budget v. The Pandemic

Philip Fisher outlines some Budget announcements that will help the cultural sector but also notes early closures of two major productions.
Angels in America

2+2 = 7 – Theatrical Economics

We have had a tough 18 months but the cultural sector is not safe yet.
Trevor Dion Nicholas in Aladdin

To Mask or Not to Mask

Theatregoers are no longer legally obliged to wear masks. Is this good or bad news?
Nadine Dorries MP

Introduction to New Culture Minister Nadine Dorries

Philip Fisher has done some research into the woman who we would like to think might be the saviour of the arts.
Rowan Atkinson as Fagin

The Next Hurdle

Shows may gradually be opening but theatre finances could still be a concern.
The Ghost Light burning at Northern Stage

Back in a theatre—at last!

Peter Lathan talks about his return to theatre after so many months.

Good News for Once

Philip Fisher reports on the long-awaited re-opening of Broadway theatres.
Jamael Westman with West End cast of Hamilton

A Slow and Painful Recovery

Philip Fisher worries about the recovery and wonders whether the most successful shows could suffer the most.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A Mixed Picture

Philip Fisher reviews some new developments on a troubled theatre scene.
Summer Holiday: The Musical


While many theatres have finally managed to reopen, there are still many hurdles ahead, especially when the big producers rely so heavily on tourist trade.
Springsteen on Broadway

The Double Vaccination Conundrum

As if producers didn't have enough headaches, they might soon have to decide whether to demand double vaccinations from staff, actors and the paying public.
Rishi Sunak and a Purple Cow

Events Insurance – Better Late than Never

The latest announcement from the "Too Little, Too Late" Party heralds the long-awaited introduction of events insurance. It probably covers theatres but the details are sketchy to say the least.
Lament for Sheku Bayoh at EIF 2021

Edinburgh Festival 2021 and Beyond

As August approaches, lovers of the arts inevitably turn their thoughts to the Scottish capital.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella

“Woe, Woe and Thrice Woe”

Political chaos is spreading its net into theatres.
Alive in Wonderland

Personal Responsibility or Community Responsibility As a Person?

As if theatres didn't have enough problems, Boris Johnson's Terminus Day could really be the end.
Alan Cumming in The Scottish Play

Test and Superspreader Events

As Terminus Day approaches, we review the current state of play for the events industry.
Matt Hancock

Forget an Orwellian future, 1984 is here

The Government seems more concerned about PR than supporting the arts, threatening the futures of many theatres.
Witness for the Prosecution

Four More Weeks of Pain?

Philip Fisher takes a hard look at the impact of the cancellation of Freedom Day and reports on four different approaches.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella

Could Andrew Lloyd Webber be swapping Cinderella for Midnight Express?

Lord Lloyd Webber has announced that he will open Cinderella on 25 June, even if that means breaking the law and a potential prison sentence.
Rufus Norris and Lisa Burger

National Theatre Together - Press Conference 4 June 2021

Philip Fisher reports on announcements from the National Theatre that promise an optimistic future.
Octagon Bolton

A Chain of Moral Dilemmas

Our editor's trip to Bolton has become mired in political controversy.
Phantom of the Opera

Three days to go

Philip Fisher looks forward to the reopening of theatres and wonders why Lord Lloyd Webber has been forced to remortgage his house.
National Theatre Pericles

Theatre’s New Normal

Is Boris Johnson's plan that theatres will open at 100% capacity from mid-June realistic?
Tron Theatre

Social distancing headaches

Philip Fisher reports on the latest position on social distancing in Scottish theatres and contrasts it with the stance of the UK government.
RSC Garden Theatre

Is Outdoors the New Indoors?

Philip Fisher takes a look at outdoor offerings for summer 2021 including some new venues.
Dame Helen Mirren in Phèdre

National Theatre at Home

Philip Fisher reviews the National Theatre's new online video library.
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Philippa Soo in Hamilton

Guinea Pigs

Philip Fisher looks into his crystal ball to consider theatre visiting over the next few months.
Arts Council England publish Cultural Recovery Fund - Second Round of Grants

CRF2 unpacked

A second round of funding from the Culture Recovery Fund was announced last week in which £26 million has been awarded to more than two thousand organisations.
Shakespeare's Globe

The demise of the interval

It may initially seem inconsequential but the announcement by Shakespeare's Globe that it is ditching the interval could have wider implications.
UK Passport

The Week of the Passport

Philip Fisher looks at two different issues that may require 'passports' to resolve.
Passionate People. Passionate Places

What’s to come in North East theatre

What’s to come is, of course, still unsure, but Peter Lathan takes a look at how North East theatres are preparing to re-open.
The Play That Goes Wrong

A plea to Boris Johnson

Philip Fisher suggests that it is time for the government to provide pandemic cancellation insurance to arts venues.
Charity single, "I Dare You" - released on Tuesday

Not just another day?

National news editor and London reviewer Sandra Giorgetti thinks about Tuesday's lockdown anniversary.
Umihiko Miya in Seven Streams of the River Ota

A Terrible Year

Philip Fisher reflects on a year that nobody could have imagined at the beginning of 2020 but sees signs of hope going forwards.
Rishi Sunak

Budget news and blues

Philip Fisher runs through some Budget highlights that are relevant for those in the cultural sector.
Luke Treadaway with Paul Ritter in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Another Blow for the National Theatre

Despite its proclamations, the government is doing the National Theatre and so many in the entertainment industry very few favours.
Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester


Philip Fisher considers what the government's new "irreversible" policy might mean for theatres.
The cast of The Play That Goes Wrong

Challenging ourselves

As the tedium continues, Philip Fisher describes adventure as a remedy for the lockdown blues.
Evita at Regent's Park

What will theatre look like in the near future?

Philip Fisher fears that economics will override art in the short term.
Royal Mile street performers

Will Freelance Woe Never End?

Philip Fisher fears that the worst is still to come from many freelance artists and support staff.
NT #LightItInRed

Rethinking the Business Model

Philip Fisher suggests that producers will need a new strategy to survive.
Screenshot from Estella Scrooge

A Ray of Light

At the end of a shocking week, Philip Fisher enthuses about the future of online theatre.
Sharlene Cruz, Dylan Gelula and Sophie Kelly-Hedrick in Hunter Theater Project's Macbeth

When Shall We Three Meet Again?

Philip Fisher looks ahead with some trepidation to a time when theatre can return to, at the very least, a new normal.

NE theatre in 2020, as seen from our house (mainly)

Peter Lathan tries to cheer himself up by taking a light-hearted look at the theatre year in the North East but finds it’s not that easy.
Tom Stoppard

Gift ideas for the strangest Christmas in living memory

Philip Fisher suggests some timely gift ideas for theatre lovers, while highlighting some of the best offerings of a limited year.
Umihiko Miya in Seven Streams of the River Ota

At Last

For official reports on the final funding allocation from the Culture Recovery Funds, including belated loans for the National Theatre and the RSC.
Cinderella from the Sunderland Empire 2020

A World Beating Government for Mixed Messages

Almost unintentionally, the government seems to be opening up theatres to a greater degree but also significantly increasing risk.
Arts Council England

Time to re-imagine theatre?

Fuelled by anger at the state of British theatre, Peter Lathan wonders if we shouldn’t take advantage of the pandemic to re-imagine what it should be like in the future.
The Cast of the Tyne Theatre's Aladdin

Can I go to a panto mummy?

Philip Fisher is completely baffled by the government's latest regulations for theatres.
NT #LightItInRed

Emergency, What Emergency?

Philip Fisher is unimpressed by Arts Council England's failure to distribute over half of the Cultural Recovery Fund.
Marlowe Theatre

Arts Council England – what are they waiting for

Last week ACE awarded £18.7 million to eight organisations in the second round of grants over £1 million. There is still money in the pot which would be better being distributed.
Everybody is Talking About Jamie

A Half-Full Cup

The vaccine could be theatre's saviour after a desperate year.
Tarrin Callender as Dick Whittington and Kat B as Uncle Vincent, The Cat

Some Hope Amidst the Agony

Philip Fisher spots some rays of light in the latest coronavirus legislation.
Max Weitzenhofer and Nica Burns

Insurance—The Missing Link

Philip Fisher reviews some recent developments and suggests that with coronavirus returning at worrying levels, theatres badly need an insurance scheme to protect against forced closures.
Panto 2020: the season in stats

Panto 2020: the season in stats

Simon Sladen brings you Pantoland's vital statistics in a season where less is more.
Arts Council England - responsible for allocating a proportion of the government's Cultural Recovery Fund

Arts Council England: £75 million divided by 35

This week £75 million from the Culture Recovery Fund was shared out between thirty five cultural organisations and venues.
Watermill Full House Appeal

Arts Council England fiddling while England burns

This week, we take a look at a series of public funding announcements that may prove a mixed blessing.
Arts Council England - responsible for allocating a proportion of the government's Cultural Recovery Fund

Second round of CRF funding from Arts Council England

The Arts Council has announced the second round of funding in which £76,654,621 of Culture Recovery Fund grants is assigned to 589 organisations.
The Odyssey Online from Jermyn Street

The Future of Theatre

Philip Fisher takes a look at how coronavirus has widened the scope of theatre delivery.
Josh Benson in York Theatre Royal's 2020 touring pantomime

Panto Season 2020: Oh Yes It Is!

Simon Sladen looks forward to Panto Season 2020 and explores how COVID-19 has affected the Industry. (Updated 28/10/20)
Arts Council England

Arts Council England First Round Funding

The top 20 winners and a breakdown by region of the initial distribution of the Arts Council's £825m share of the Cultural Recovery Fund.
The impact of the Cultural Recovery Fund on the Arts and Culture sector

Could it be magic?

The Arts Council-commissioned CEBR report, which attributes an expedited recovery for the cultural sector to government funding, has left National news editor and London reviewer Sandra Giorgetti contemplating the power of magic.
Talking Heads at The Bridge

Please Close Us Down!

Boris Johnson might be the next Feydeau or Frayn, judging by the problems that theatres might suffer under his latest cunning plan.
Oliver Dowden

Saving panto? Huh!

While a small part of the theatre industry celebrates Operation Sleeping Beauty, Peter Lathan is far more cynical.
Pantoland at the Palladium

Operation Sleeping Beauty: Pantoland's Kiss of Life?

Simon Sladen reports on the National Lottery initiative to purchase pantomime tickets to seats unable to be sold due to 'social distancing' under Operation Sleeping Beauty.
Julian Knight MP

Parliamentary Debate on Culture Sector 8 October 2020

The House of Commons debated spending by the Department for Digital, Culture and Media and Sport on support measures for the DCMS sectors during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mousetrap

Whodunnit or Didn’t

Philip Fisher compares and contrasts the entertainment industry's responses to coronavirus in London and New York.
Rishi Sunak

Has Sunak Saved the Theatre? – Not Yet

Rishi Sunak's latest jobs and loans package offers little comfort for the arts community.
Max Weitzenhofer and Nica Burns

The wisdom of reopening theatres

Philip Fisher is concerned that running shows at a loss could further damage the finances of theatres that are already struggling.
Jack and the Two Metre Beanstalk

Pandemic Panto-monium!

Simon Sladen reports on the latest industry activity ahead of Panto Season 2020 including strategies companies are taking to produce COVID-secure productions. Updated 23/09/20.
Finborough Theatre

Favourite theatres on death row and an extra-terrestrial solution

Philip Fisher highlights the plight of the Finborough Theatre in London and some of Edinburgh's finest, while remaining cynical about the government's Moonshine project.
Julian Knight MP

A begging letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer

The DCMS committee has written to Rishi Sunak pleading for help for the arts.
Tony Boncza, Oliver Gully and Anna Andersen in The Mousetrap

Creatives versus Accountants

Philip Fisher worries about the future of the industry that we all love.
Encore Musicians

The day the music dies

National news editor and London reviewer Sandra Giorgetti takes a look at a recent survey that puts figures on the desperate straits of UK musicians.
Sam Mendes

A Drop in the Ocean

Philip Fisher reports on an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and an Arts Council England bailout that will leave the self-employed drowning.
Talking Heads

Theatrical (Russian) Roulette

Philip Fisher considers the government's (second) announcement that some indoor theatres can reopen in limited fashion and highlights two exciting shows from major venues that will benefit.
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Who will survive?

Peter Lathan asks which theatres, apart from the “crown jewels”, will survive the effects of the pandemic.
EU Flag

If the Pandemic Doesn’t Get the Arts, Brexit Will

Philip Fisher considers an open letter about EU and the arts written by Baroness Donaghy, Chair of the House of Lords EU Services Sub--Committee to Oliver Dowden.
Harold Pinter Theatre

Decimation of the Theatre Industry

Philip Fisher fears that the government's latest pronouncement is another step towards a disaster from which theatre could take a generation to recover.
Oliver Dowden

Government jump start funding for theatres and other arts organisations

The next stage of the government's funding for the arts has been announced. Many will see this complex package as too little too late.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag on Edinburgh Fringe

DCMS first report into the Impact of COVID-19

Philip Fisher summarises the first report published by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee into the impact of COVID-19 on theatres.
The Mousetrap

A Mystery to Rival The Mousetrap

Philip Fisher welcomes announcements about the reopening of some London theatres but questions the commercial rationale.

Opening Open-Air Theatres (or not)

Philip Fisher asks whether the new rules on open-air theatres are anything more than a gimmick.
New York Times Journalist Matthew Anderson and actor Samuel West exchange pantomime views via Twitter

"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.
James Graham's This House at the National Theatre

Don’t uncork the champagne just yet...

Philip Fisher offers an instant response to the Government's bailout package for the arts sector.
Phantom of the Opera

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.
OffWestEnd report: £9m to save 100 theatres

Read 'em and weep

National news editor and London reviewer Sandra Giorgetti finds the recent figures announced by OffWestEnd brings tears to her eyes.
Sierra Boggess

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.
The ghost light still burning at Northern Stage, Newcastle

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.
Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP

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.
Lord Gilbert of Panteg, chair of The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee

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

Panto in Lockdown: A Roundup

Simon Sladen surveys the online pantomime initiatives keeping the genre alive during lockdown.
NRTF - National Rural Touring Forum

Size matters

Sandra Giorgetti considers theatre at this time of crisis, particularly the smaller venues and rural touring.
Sonia Friedman

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.
Bryan Cranston in Network

Theatre Closures

Philip Fisher looks at the future and fears a long wait before theatres across the UK reopen.
Coronavirus Theatre Club

Let’s not confuse theatres with Theatre

Peter Lathan responds to the suggestion that theatres may not be able to re-open until 2021.
The interior of Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle

Lamentations of an isolated theatrical

Peter Lathan explores how well (or otherwise) he is living with isolation.
Online theatre shows on BTG

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.
Rishi Sunak

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.
Joseph Milson, Dervla Kirwan and Simon Russell Beale in Mr Foote's Other Leg

The Play’s (Not) the Thing

Philip Fisher introduces his new weekly column with some thoughts about the consequences of current theatre closures.


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