Richard Lambert of Lambco Productions, creators and current operators of the Garden Theatre @Eagle London reflects on the lockdown roadmap to easing restrictions and the ongoing uncertainty around when theatres will be permitted to open.
Back at the end of 2020, London came out of lockdown#2 under Tier 2 restrictions, so we re-opened our outdoor Garden Theatre with our pantomime Frostbite, who pinched my muff?, only to have Tier3 restrictions force us to close yet again after only 8 performances. Expecting this lockdown to cover Christmas and possibly the New Year period, we left the set in place and waited to re-open our pantomime in January. This never happened and now we find ourselves loading everything out at the end of February.
The current roadmap is “no earlier than…” which does not instil any confidence that producers won’t get stung yet again. Our costs are so heavily weighted before the production opens that closing a production run just as soon as it starts is financially very damaging.
The Government has published the following:
“Step 3, no earlier than 17 May: Outdoor performances such as outdoor cinemas, outdoor theatres and outdoor cinemas can reopen.
Theatre performances are Step 4, no earlier than 21 June: It is hoped all legal limits on social contact can be removed. We hope to reopen nightclubs, and lift restrictions on large events and performances that apply in Step 3.”
So, although we have many productions in our line up ready to put on, it looks very unlikely that we can plan to do any live performance shows prior to 21st June and even then, only if the COVID statistics aren’t adversely skewed by schools and colleges returning on March 8th.
We still don’t have any assurance that we can get back to making theatre in June, or if the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will go ahead in August, or if anyone will come to support live theatre in 2021.
More than a year later and the future of our industry is still very unclear and uncertain.
Top photo credit: Fanny and Stella – Kane Verrall and Jed Berry by Alex Hinson