By Jolly, The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) – When Andrew Lincoln steps onto the stage at London’s Old Vic Theater as Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”, he appears in an empty auditorium.
The audience is beyond the walls of the theater, staring at screens, in houses and apartments. In this epidemic year, Old Vic’s seasonal production of Charles Dickens’ classic is being livened up overnight to zoom in on the night of December 24 with ticket-holders around the world.
British actor Lincoln, who starred in nine seasons in the AMC zombie drama “The Walking Dead”, said, “It’s a very strange experience, doing something on a stage and then not feeling the emotion of the audience”.
But this is the reality of London’s West End that happens this holiday season. The Old Vic Theater is among theaters trying to keep Jyoti alive. But owners and producers have warned that a nine-month coronovirus-related curse has left Britain’s performing arts on the verge – and the decision to close theaters in the capital starting on Wednesday could push them.
Christmas is usually a golden time for British cinemas. Families flock to watch – combining fairy tale plots with raucous seasonal songs, satire and slaps – and festive classics such as “A Christmas Carol”. Holiday-season revenue can carry locations through the rest of the year.
This year, more than half of the UK population is under tight restrictions that have forced theaters, concert halls, art galleries, museums and theaters to close their doors.
It also includes London, where theaters began to reopen just after the four-week national lockdown ended. 2. Subsequently, on Monday, the government imposed stringent restrictions on the capital due to increased infection.
Julian Bird, chief executive of industry groups Society of London Theaters and UK Theaters, said the decision would cause “catastrophic financial difficulties for venues, producers and thousands of industry workers – particularly freelancers who are in the theater workforce” 70%. “
Ever since Britain went into its first lockdown in March, theaters have found simple ways to work. Old Vic has mounted an “in camera” season of plays aired on its stage and online. Other places had begun to reopen to audiences wearing limited, face masks with measures to socially distance them.
Producers say there has been no virus outbreak from theaters, and wonder why they have to close when large stores can remain open. Musician Andrew Lloyd Webber said it seemed “arbitrary and unfair” to ban theater performances while continuing shopping.
Producer Sonia Freedman, whose show “The Comeback” was forced to close after its opening night at London’s Noel Coward Theater, said audiences “uplifted, energized and reminded about the power of the theater” And it can play an important role. ” In the mental well being of the community. “
“That is so sudden, brutally and unethically ripped away,” she said.
The government says it is supporting theaters with its 1.57 billion-pound ($ 2.1 billion) culture recovery fund.
The Department of Culture said it had put in £ 400 million of contingency funding, “and will now be used to support organizations facing financial crises as a result of its closure, as well as transitioning them to full opening in the spring will gain help in.”
A glimpse of hope is that, as workplaces, theaters can continue to build and rehearse. Old Vic’s “Christmas Carol” employs 80 people, including 18 artists and musicians.
It has been a challenge. The temperature of the cast and crew is checked daily and tested twice a week. Lincoln is living in London away from his family during rehearsals. Performers must remain 2 meters (6) feet) outside the stage.
And yet, Lincoln says, the production maintains the magic of Dickens’s story about a miser who spends his way past his past, present and future supernatural tour. Playmate Jack Thorne’s adaptation of Old Vic has been a hit for the last three Christmas. But this year it did not look like a comeback.
Speaking to The Associated Press on Zoom, Lincoln said that the production “came about” because (artistic director) Matthew Warchus was doing what we’re doing. Too many more zoom calls are trying to save the theater and work to find out how we are going to navigate this terrible year. “
Lincoln’s own plans, which include a “Walking Dead” film, have been forestalled by the epidemic, although he expects the film’s shooting to begin in the spring.
“There seems to be a certain sense of positivity and cavalry coming in with vaccines,” he said. “And there is a real sense of a renewed spirit, hopefully.
“We just feel very lucky that we are working in a theater at this time in history.”
He thinks that the story of redemption and people’s dependence on each other has a particular resonance in 2020, when “the world was together in this terrible year.”
“It’s challenging, trying to rehearse in the mask for three weeks,” he said. “(But) everyone comes with such harmony that we are trying to throw it out there and hopefully we are going to create something that is exciting, thrilling, scary and very moving.
“It’s just a good thing we’re sending to the world.”
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