Theatre Takes Centre Stage

Harrogate Theatre’s Emergency Appeal has moved past the £40,000 mark. I would just like to thank the amazing people of Harrogate for all their contributions. These are extraordinarily difficult times, and everyone connected to the theatre is immensely grateful for every single donation and also the good wishes that we continually receive.

Theatre and the arts took centre stage in the news last week as ‘an industry in severe crisis’. The playwright James Graham spoke eloquently and with controlled passion on Question Time last Thursday evening. He was the perfect spokesperson as many of the big players in theatre also came forward to talk about the critical state of the arts. There is clearly grave concern as theatres and venues around the country are starting to go into administration. I suspect that we will see a steady stream of these in the months to come. The government and the Arts Council have both provided welcome and much needed support for my sector over the past ten weeks, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that we are not returning to business soon, and when we do it will be far from normal.

The questions still remain, will there be an appetite for large gatherings in public spaces, and will theatre be financially viable? Recently I have been working with the Harrogate based photojournalist Jude Palmer, to document the theatre during these troubled times. As you can see from her chilling picture, a full house ‘at distance’ is going to have a very different feel to it.

On a positive note, we still have an artistic output, as Story Circle has transferred online. Check out our playlist on YouTube with a range of adventures for the under 5’s.

Youth theatre has also had virtual sessions over the past few weeks with pre-recorded videos on creative writing, which are utilizing lockdown to develop new skills. There have also been sessions exploring the form and content of short stories, poetry, dramatic monologues and letter writing. This will culminate in live online workshops with groups performing pieces around fictional characters in isolation. Youth theatre is also taking part in an international project called Time Capsule from Company Three. This project involves creating themed videos that capture these extraordinary times from the perspective of young people.

For more details visit www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk. You can also donate to our Emergency Campaign for survival via the website.

First published in the Harrogate Advertiser on THU 28 MAY.