The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 14 April 2020
On The Dark Side - Andrew Lloyd Webber has warned that theatres are likely to remain closed until the end of September. He said forecasts that venues may be able to reopen in June were “ridiculous”. “The industry says theatres reopen 7 June. My opinion? Optimistic. Ridiculous. I think this peaks in June, and theatres remain closed until end of September.
He told New York publication Page Six: “We need these places, many [of which] are old, [to be as] safe as possible. In South Korea, they take everyone’s temperature. We’ll self-clean handles, wipe doors, utilise every safety measure. People won’t wish to crowd into small clustered seats again. But we must reopen. Some, with leftover money to spend, need the theatre.”
Lloyd Webber’s next show is Cinderella, which is due to open later this year at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre. The Society of London Theatre recently issued new advice to theatregoers, stating venues would be closed until at least May 31. Industry leaders have warned that some audiences could be reluctant to go back into auditoriums once the lockdown is lifted.
Freelance Support - Arts organisations across Greater Manchester – including the Royal Exchange Theatre, Home and the Lowry – have joined together to support freelances during the Covid-19 outbreak. GM Artist Hub is a collaboration between a group of more than 10 organisations in the region and will provide artists with opportunities to sign up for sessions with producers and directors to explore the “challenges, ideas and opportunities” open to them during the pandemic.
It is hoped that the initiative may also secure funding to support a wider programme of workshops, professional development activities, as well as employment opportunities and commissioning that respond to the needs of the freelance community in the area.
Claire Symonds, who is senior producer of artist development at the Lowry, said: “Greater Manchester is known for its brilliant creative ecology, from the established venues through to the independent performers, artists and companies who are out there making things happen on their own terms.
“Independent artists and freelance creatives are carrying some of the biggest impacts in our industry, facing both an immediate loss of income with no notice as shows and projects are cancelled, and the prospect of future cancellations as the situation progresses. But artists are the lifeblood of our industry. What’s more, their creativity and ability to adapt will be absolutely critical as we all look for new ways of reaching out to audiences while social distancing is in place.”
The Ballad of Reading Gaol - A former prison in Reading where Oscar Wilde was famously incarcerated, has been sold to an unannounced bidder. Campaign group Theatre and Arts Reading had hoped to work with Reading Borough Council to turn the site into an arts hub with a 1,450-seat theatre and a smaller 450-seat space. However the council’s bid to buy Reading Prison, formerly known as Reading Gaol, from the Ministry of Justice was rejected. The ministry is yet to announce the buyer.
Jason Brock, leader of Reading Borough Council, said: “The council’s bid rightly focused on the historical and cultural value of the Reading Prison site and it was dependent on securing significant external funds to manage the risk of taking ownership of this historic property. We are naturally disappointed that the MoJ has rejected the council’s bid.”
NHS Tribute - Sir Ken Dodd's signature tune Happiness has been re-recorded as a tribute to the health service amid the pandemic. Before his death in 2018, the Liverpool legend praised the care he received from the "marvellous" NHS. His 1964 single has been re-recorded as a "joy-filled tribute" to NHS workers.
Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson is joined in the music video by Glenda Jackson, Rick Astley, Jimmy Tarbuck, Shirley Ballas, Claire Sweeney, Les Dennis and Carol Decker. The song, which also features dozens of nurses and families, includes people from Liverpool or around the area where Sir Ken was from.
Tomlinson, who is filmed singing in his bath, said: "We saw Madonna in her bath having a go, so we thought it's time we did an authentic Scouse song to get the nation smiling again and say a huge thank-you to all our amazing NHS staff."
Social Distancing - A new version of The Police’s Don’t Stand So Close to Me was recorded as part of The Tonight Show‘s At Home edition. Jimmy Fallon, Sting and the Roots performed a ‘remix’ of the 1980 hit single, using just a few instruments (Sting on guitar) and some household objects as percussion - Questlove with scissors and forks, Black Thought with a hair pick, Dave Guy with two sneakers, and Kamal Gray with a game of Connect 4, to name a few. Each person recorded their part separately in their own homes, and the footage was later edited together into a full Don’t Stand So Close to Me (Quarantine Remix).
(Jim Evans)
14 April 2020

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