The News That Didn’t Make It: Episode Seven

Each week, our #StageDoorLive News Writer / Researcher Hillary Dziminski chronicles her interaction with the news of the week. This week’s news was bleak – closures, liquidations, and other disasters for the theatre sector.

Each week, our #StageDoorLive News Writer / Researcher Hillary Dziminski chronicles her interaction with the news of the week. Some of it that made it to the show, and other bits that didn’t… but they matter damn it. Watch the news that did make it in #StageDoorLive Episode Seven.

Good morning, friends! (And family, hi Mom.) How’s everyone doing this week? Okay? What’s bringing you joy these days? Last week I shared that I was looking forward to the streaming of ‘A Monster Calls’ and this week the theatre gods smiled upon us once more.

Claire Foy and Matt Smith reunite to live-stream Lungs in bid to save Old Vic

Now, the circumstances here are not ideal, obviously, but I think the Old Vic are onto something here. Of course nothing will ever compare to the magic of theatregoing — from selecting your ticket to pre-show coffee in the foyer to the post-show chats. But the Old Vic are finding ways to mimic the experience by filming in the theatre, limiting virtual tickets to the venue’s physical capacity, even pricing tiers (£10–£65). It might not be the same experience, but it seems closer to the real thing, and I can’t wait to see this production of one of my all-time favourite plays.

Coronavirus: Arts Council England planning pandemic response until 2024

Our own director of the Arts Council, Maureen Kennelly, also published a blog this week, which we briefly recapped in last night’s news segment. Now I will be the first to acknowledge that as an American transplant in Ireland, I am not intimately familiar with the ins and outs of Irish government infrastructure, the history of arts funding in Ireland, or any of the many and varied other factors that go into things like Arts Council planning. But it is interesting to compare the responses to this crisis in different countries. ACE is planning as far ahead as 2024. You can make your own comparisons and draw your own conclusions — the blog post can be read here. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

So remember how last week’s roundup of headlines was overwhelmingly positive?

Well this week is…see for yourself. Here’s just a quick collection of the headlines I collected to consider including in this week’s news segment and blog post:
Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre mothballed in face of financial crisis
The Fall of Autumn: Live Performance Producers Are Giving Up on 2020
Southbank Centre warns it may have to stay closed until spring 2021
Alan Ayckbourn: ‘People went back to theatres after the plague, but they didn’t have Netflix then, did they?’
British theatre ‘on brink of total collapse’, says top producer
Coronavirus: Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre goes into liquidation

That’s just a handful of stories I read in preparation for this week’s episode and let me tell you, folks: it wasn’t a walk in the park. It was hard. This is hard. Even as my own company makes preparations for a new, adapted season of work, it’s growing increasingly difficult to keep the spirits up when every week brings more upsetting stories like those listed above. Even as society starts taking baby steps towards reopening, a return to theatre business as usual just seems so far away and unfathomable.

A Case for Liveness

In light of all that, I found a lot to think about in this article. Annie Saunders sums up so much of what I’ve been feeling when she says:

“When you go to a live performance, you take your body with you.”

And that’s exactly it, isn’t it? I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m not engaging with the vast amount of top quality content that’s being made available from the world’s leading companies, venues, and artists, and I think this is exactly it. When you go to a live performance, you take your body with you. When you go to a live performance, you are wholly removed from your natural habitat — there are no housemates watching TV in the next room, you’re not cooking your dinner while you watch, you’re (probably, hopefully) not wearing sweatpants. When you go to a live performance, you are physically there and that physical presence — at least for me — almost always lends itself to a more focused mental presence. Of course there are days where my heart and head just aren’t in it; we all have off days where even the most remarkable performance isn’t enough to take us out of our own thoughts. But by and large, the physical act of attendance is a significant part of what makes performance magical.

I think I’ll leave it at that this week, friends. A short entry, but the decided lack of positive news has taken its toll. If any of you are in need of a pick-me-up this week, I recommend checking out this website: https://www.earthcam.com/events/animalcams/ which offers a collection of live animal cameras around the world where you can watch manatees, penguins, meerkats, giraffes…pick your adorable poison and zone out. You deserve it.

Until next week!

H x

You can get in touch with me if you have any theatre news stories you think might be of interest, or just to say hello at hillary@theatremaker.ie.

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