The Oxford Playhouse performed the play ‘A Theatre Near You’, with Jericho Comedy Club and Macrocosmic, to highlight their disapproval of the Government’s current regulations for theatres. The play was performed in the theatre to an empty auditorium and tickets were sold for access to an online stream. 

The Government’s current ruling has left theatres able to open, but without the ability to put on live performances. The show was aid of ‘The Playhouse Plays On’ appeal, aiming to help support the Oxford based theatre which is struggling financially after a 3 month closure. 

The show was introduced by Marcus Brigstocke, Stephen Fry appeared via video link, and the live line-up included talent such as Lucy Porter and Rachel Parris.

The show, written by Kevin Day from an original idea by Harry Househam, was directed by Oxford actor and director Simon Evans. Evans directed the BBC 1 show Staged, which has proved popular during the lockdown.

The show was live-streamed on Wednesday 8th July at 8pm, with tickets charged at £25 for each device or household and available up until 6pm.

Theatre director Louise Chantal told the Bicester Advertiser: “The COVID-19 crisis has affected every aspect of our lives, but for the thousands of artists, creatives, producers, technicians and venue staff who work in the performing arts, this closure could mark the end of their careers in the sector.

“Theatre, comedy, music and even panto are all under threat. The whole theatre industry is waiting on tenterhooks for a decision on extended government aid to mitigate the reduced capacities and nervous audiences to come. Many of our producing partners have cancelled tours, meaning we may have gaps in the programme for some time.”

The Oxford Playhouse’s website, in its advert for the show, also alludes to a similar scenario: “The COVID-19 crisis has affected every aspect of our lives, but for the thousands of artists, creatives, producers, technicians and venue staff who work in the performing arts, this closure could mark the end of their careers in the cultural sector. Theatre, comedy, music and even panto are all under threat (oh yes they are!).

“Following the announcement that ‘theatres can open on the 4 July, but without live performances’, all of us at the Playhouse got a bit cross. Then Jericho Comedy Club asked if we wanted to livestream a comedy gig with no audience to demonstrate how hard the government have made it for theatres to open without live audiences.”

The Government’s £1.57 billion support package for the arts industry meant the Playhouse recently received £150,000 from Arts Council England

Image credit to OxfordPlayhouse, CC BY-SA 3.0