The easing of coronavirus restrictions means that from 4 July, England’s theatres and arts centres are permitted to reopen their doors. But there’s a significant snag: government guidance states these venues should not stage live performance. If they can’t put on a show, why would theatres open at all? “It would be significantly cheaper to keep the doors closed,” admits Alex Clifton, artistic director of Chester’s Storyhouse, which will welcome back people from this Saturday. Visitors will find a theatre repurposed as a cinema, with physically distanced seating. The complex’s original cinema screen, library and restaurant will also open. But it’s about more than offering entertainment and a bite to eat – it’s a civic duty, says Clifton. “People are desperate for contact again, to get back into community spaces, where they feel safe and connected.” Putting on plays, he argues, is “not our mission. We put on plays in service of our mission.” During lockdown, Storyhouse’s activities have continued online, including youth projects, friendship groups and a support network for those bereaved by suicide. After the theatre closed in mid-March, its cafe remained open for 10 days as a soup kitchen. Since then, Storyhouse has been in “a state… Read full this story
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