• michaelabennison

Opening Up

With the ease of lockdown restrictions, theatres are slowly, but increasingly surely, opening up again. And whilst it's by no means the entire industry throwing open its doors, there does seem to be an eclectic mix.

From revivals of classic's such as Anything Goes at The Barbican, Romeo and Juliet at Regents Park Open Air Theatre and South Pacific at Chichester Festival Theatre, to new pieces like Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner at The Royal Court and Shedding a Skin at the Soho Theatre, there seems to be something for everyone if you want to brave the crowds.

The reopening has triggered a whirlwind of emotions for me and my theatre colleagues, both positive and negative. I've been lucky. I've had offers of work during this pandemic. This Sunday I'm leaving London for rehearsals and I may well have more work in the autumn (fingers crossed!). But others have struggled with the lack of opportunities coming their way whilst watching the steady stream of cast announcements on their Twitter feed.

I know it may seem rich for me to offer comfort to those who haven't come back to theatre just yet. But even so, I want to say this to the people who are still waiting for their call:

You are valuable

Your art is valuable. Your voice is valuable. And, most importantly, you - a beautiful human in this world - are valuable. Don't let anyone or anything make you feel otherwise.

The Industry is not as 'back' as it seems

Even without restrictions, producing a show right now is a risk. And many of the shows that have re-opened (emphasis on the 're') have retained or re-hired the actors previously casts. The shows being announced don't reflect the actual number of job opportunities widely available.

There may be opportunities closer to home

It's not just the venues and productions making the most noise that are creating work. Smaller scale performances are starting to happen too. Whilst it's great to see the West End opening up again, it's by no means the be all and end all.

You're worth isn't tied to your theatre work

I basically said this in point one, but it deserves repeating. Your worth isn't measured by being in work or by your most recent credit or by how many auditions you've done recently. It's easy to fall back into this way of thinking as things reopen, but it wasn't true before the pandemic and it isn't true now. Continue cultivating your identity and self-worth outside of theatre, whether you're already 'back' or not.

Theatre will still be here when the pandemic is over

Our industry was one of the hardest hit by this pandemic. We don't know what the long term damage will be, and success in the new normal may mean founding new institutions or adapting to new ways of working. But the fact is, only a week after the end of restrictions, theatres are full. Audiences want live theatre. And as long as there's an audience, theatre in some capacity will be able to find a way to continue.

There's still so much uncertainty about our industry's survival. It's scary not knowing if you'll work in theatre again, or if work you do book will be cancelled. All we can do is be kind to ourselves and take each day as it comes.

As the no-so-old song says: "Take a breath when you need to be reminded that with days like these we can only do the best we can 'til we do it again."

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