Lights Dimmed - Many West End theatres dimmed their lights on the evening of 21 December, in support of Ukraine and the winter blackouts the country will face due to the ongoing war with Russia. 21 December is the darkest day of the year, with the shortest day and longest night of the year, and West End theatres, along with other London businesses and the Mayor of London, participated in the worldwide supportive act.
West End theatres have a tradition of dimming theatre lights before or during an evening performance to pay tribute to notable figures who have died, mark a moment of tragedy or show support for a cause. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged organisations and individuals to band together for An Hour For Ukraine by switching off festive and non-essential lights to help raise public awareness of the continued war impact on Ukraine and to help with fundraising efforts. The campaign is part of a $10 million fundraising drive for hospital generators across Ukraine.
RSC Recovery - The Royal Shakespeare company’s box office income in 2021/22 increased by £12.4m compared with 2020/21, with the organisation stating it is "well on the way to recovery" from the impact of Covid. In 2020/21, when activities were restricted due to lockdowns, the RSC’s box office income was £94,000. This rose to £12.5m for 2021/22.
The organisation’s total income for 2021/22 was £39.7m, 62% of which was self-generated from box office sales, commercial trading and fundraising, its annual accounts show. This compares with a total income of £43m for 2020/21; however, executive director Erica Whyman said the higher figure was due to the receipt of a significant donation and money from the coronavirus job retention scheme.
Whyman said: "As we look back on the previous year, we are proud to be reporting sell-out shows in Stratford-upon-Avon and London with A Christmas Carol and My Neighbour Totoro, and a wonderful response to the 2023 programme including Hamnet, which will reopen the Swan Theatre.
She added: "As the country emerged from the pandemic, we led our recovery with vision and compassion. We made extraordinary theatre, on stage, in our gardens, on the streets, and in classrooms and communities across England. We tried and tested new ways of thinking and working in what has been an unforgettable year made possible by the hugely skilled and generous colleagues who make the RSC what it is."
Farewell - Fred White, former drummer of the band Earth, Wind & Fire, has died aged 67. A child drumming prodigy, Chicago-born White was one of the early members to join the group founded by his other brother Maurice. Bassist Verdine White said his "amazing and talented" brother was now "drumming with the angels". Among the tributes to White, singer Lenny Kravitz called him a "true king" and said he was "blessed" to have been influenced by him. RIP.
(Jim Evans)
3 January 2023

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