Broadway is closed, but London's theaters carry on

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Wednesday, February 28, 2024


Broadway is closed, but London's theaters carry on
People share hand sanitizer outside the Brooks Atkinson Theater in New York on March 12, 2020. Facing concern from actors and audiences about health risks during the coronavirus pandemic, the industry announced that shows will be shuttered through April 12. Nina Westervelt/The New York Times.

by Alex Marshall



LONDON (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- On Broadway, theater doors are shut. In Milan, the Teatro alla Scala opera house is silent. In Paris, theaters including the storied Comédie-Française announced Friday they were closing down temporarily, too.

Across the United States and across Europe, theaters and other cultural venues have drawn the curtains as authorities try to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

But Friday afternoon, inside the National Theater in London, the show was going on. Dozens of people milled around in the foyer of the concrete building on the south bank of the river Thames, many of them with a drink in hand. They were about to go in and see “The Seven Streams of the River Ota,” Robert Lepage’s seven-hour saga about the repercussions of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Tasha Kitcher, 22, said she wasn’t worried about sitting next to a stranger for such a long time. “We’re British,” she said, “so it’s, like, whatever.”

Barbara Shep, 65, was a little more concerned. She would ask to move if someone next to her coughed or sneezed, she said. “But I think you’ve got to carry on and just try and be as careful as you can,” she said.

“I’m quite glad it’s seven hours,” said Alastair Knights, 30. “I think I’d happily stay in there for double that, if it meant that I wasn’t just looking at my phone going, ‘Argh.’”

On Friday, Britain’s approach to containing the coronavirus seemed out of step with other European countries. France, Denmark, and Austria, for example, have restricted indoor gatherings to fewer than 100 people. But the government here has not placed any restrictions on events. At a news conference Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson simply advised anyone showing symptoms of the virus to self-isolate for seven days.

Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, explained the government’s reasoning to BBC radio on Friday. “The most likely place you’re going get an infection from is from a family member, a friend, somebody very close, in a small space,” he said.

There were 798 confirmed cases in Britain on Friday morning, although on Thursday, health authorities estimated that between 5,000 and 10,000 people in the country were infected.

It’s not just theaters that are open: Most of London’s museums were open Friday, too, including Tate Modern, despite an employee there having tested positive for the coronavirus.

Some event organizers in Britain have decided to take their own actions, canceling or postponing tours and festivals. On Friday, the Premier League, Britain’s top soccer competition, announced it was suspending matches.

But cultural venues, most of which are not insured against pandemics, were waiting for instructions from the government.

In a statement on Friday, the Society of London Theater, a trade body, said, “Following the latest government advice, theaters continue to stay open as part of the scientific rationale for managing the coronavirus outbreak.”

“In uncertain and anxious times, theater can provide a much-needed boost and escape,” it added.

Over 15.3 million people saw plays and musicals in London in 2019 — more than 1 million more than on Broadway — according to the society.

The society had issued guidance to its members to limit contact between staff and audience members, such as at stage doors. Theaters should also deep clean venues regularly, it added. Actors were told to sign autographs with their own pens.

On Wednesday, Daily Mail Online, the website of The Daily Mail newspaper, published a story with the headline: “The best time to snap up theater tickets!”

Tickets for popular shows in London’s West End, including “Hamilton” and “Wicked,” were now available for just 15 pounds, about $18, “as tourists cancel bookings amid the coronavirus outbreak,” the website said.

Five London theater owners turned down or did not respond to interview requests to discuss coronavirus for this article. Philip Bernays, chief executive of the Theater Royal, Newcastle Upon Tyne, in northeastern England, said that he understood why the government had not ordered closures. “It’s an immensely complicated situation,” he said. “It’s about balancing safety and the economy.”

Some impact of the coronavirus could be seen in London’s theaters on Friday. During a packed performance of “Hamilton” at the Victoria Palace Theater, a few attendees wore face masks. At one point in the show, Gavin Spokes, playing King George, cleared his throat and made a look of mock virus-related concern at the audience. He got a huge laugh.

And at Shakespeare’s Globe theater, a cleaner was rubbing down handrails with Safe Zone Plus, a disinfectant that kills viruses, as school groups and tourists waited to see a performance of “The Taming of The Shrew.”

A few groups had canceled bookings, but some shows including Saturday evening’s performance of “Macbeth” were sold out, said a spokeswoman for Shakespeare’s Globe.

Inside, Georgina Frylink, 37, a nanny on a trip from Edinburgh, was sitting in the mezzanine with a friend, nursing a drink and waiting for the show to begin. She was the only person in the audience who looked worried. “My boss is a doctor, and she advised against going to large gatherings,” she said.

“I’m a bit nervous,” she said, when asked how she would feel if someone coughed, “but it’s a little bit too late to do anything about it now.”

The play soon began. Five minutes in, a woman about 30 feet from Frylink started to cough, quickly raising her elbow to her mouth (as advised by health authorities). The woman unwrapped a sweet, but it didn’t seem to help. She kept hacking into her arm.

But no one in the audience turned around to look. Even Frylink didn’t. They were absorbed by the action onstage. Then everyone laughed at a joke.

© 2020 The New York Times Company










Today's News

March 15, 2020

Exhibition features some of Lucas Cranach's most beguiling paintings and illustrations

Fossil of 43-million-year-old penguin skin found in Argentina

The talented Mr. Philbrick

California man pleads guilty in $6 million art fraud case

Louvre Abu Dhabi closed in virus shutdown

Looted Zimbabwe national bird statues returned to first home

Culture Minister leads calls to save Welsh medieval scientific manuscript

At the library, last call for beauty and books

Galerie Guido W. Baudach opens an exhibition of works by Philipp Modersohn

Israel halts leisure, culture activities to stem virus

Tate Britain exhibition celebrates the brief but astonishing career of Aubrey Beardsley

Georgia Museum of Art receives large gift of "cutting-edge" contemporary art

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, musician, artist and provocateur, dies at 70

She went blind. Then she danced.

Auction featuring the collections of the late FBI agent Bill Rosenbaum will be held March 21st

Anicka Yi to undertake 2020 Hyundai Commission for the Turbine Hall

Juno Terrace in Palazzo Vecchio and Verrocchio's Putto reunited following restoration

Amazing Fantasy #15, unique Play Station console lift Heritage Auctions sale beyond $10.75 million

When the Big Apple's culture meccas shut down, they made lemonade

Rare fully functional Apple-1 Computer sold for USD $458,711 at auction

Spring fine art auctions to grab spotlight at Heritage Auctions

Steven Nelson announced as new Dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

Rare early stories by Frank Frazetta will headline Weiss Auctions' March 26 sale

Laia Abril wins Foam Paul Huf Award 2020

Broadway is closed, but London's theaters carry on

Some Ways On How to Boost Your Home Value

Why Is CBD Oil So Expensive?




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful