We’re allowed to book a holiday, but theatres are still closed. How patient are performers expected to be?

I have almost 40 years’ worth of gig memories to keep me going, and if my performing career should end now then at least I’ve had my turn. But even I know this isn’t just about me, says Jenny Eclair

Monday 29 June 2020 15:51 BST
Newcastle Theatre Royal, which has announced plans to make half of its staff redundant
Newcastle Theatre Royal, which has announced plans to make half of its staff redundant (PA)

Well this is confusing isn’t it? Thanks to new proposed “air bridges”, as long as face masks are worn, hundreds of people will be allowed to travel on a plane together for several hours in a confined space with just two communal lavatories, and yet our theatres remain closed. Not closed entirely, but closed for the purpose for which they were built: watching live entertainment.

Last week, arts minister Oliver “Dowdy” (spot the deliberate spelling mistake) unveiled his cunning five-point manifesto to get shows back on the boards. He might as well have scribbled it in biro on the back of a fag packet. Dowden’s useless “plan” contained no actual opening dates and no update on the cash rescue package that was promised back in early June. While other countries have put their hands in their pockets, hundreds of thousands of us involved in the performing arts in the UK are sitting at home feeling increasingly desperate.

Here’s a fact: no one loves a luvvie and, at the height of the pandemic, it was uncomfortable to talk about anything that wasn’t a simple matter of life and death. So many of us put up and shut up – especially those lucky enough to have savings and other work on the side. After all, all what right did we have to whinge when people were dying?

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