For theatre... online, non-professional, amateur

Coronavirus / Covid-19 (Foreword)

We hardly need to point out how we all find ourselves on untested ground right now, with the situation changing daily (or even hourly)… and the schools have just closed!

For all we know, Government advice may have been updated by the time you come to open our new issue. And with ‘theatre’ falling into the leisure and entertainment sector – where crowds of more than 100-500 people often assemble (for amateur shows) – societies up and down the country are having to make some difficult decisions regarding production schedules. Even rehearsing is impossible at the moment, with casts and creatives around the UK including many of the more vulnerable members of society.

On 17 March, the UK Government ‘asked’ rather than ‘ordered’ the public to stay away from all public meeting places, including theatres. The subsequent instant closure of West End, regional and amateur theatre productions may present an insurance nightmare, with such action possibly seen as ‘voluntary’ rather than ‘compulsory’ by insurers. We hope that it doesn’t threaten some venues with bankruptcy but, at the moment, many social media posts are extremely worrying. UK theatre closures appear to represent an opposite of what happened on Broadway five days earlier, when: “Under the direction of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Broadway shows in New York City will suspend all performances immediately in support of the health and well-being of the theatregoing public, as well as those who work in the theatre industry.”

In line with the advice, all producers and venues took the decision to cancel production plans and, likewise, nearly all amateur theatre societies decided to shelve or postpone part of their current season of productions. As we go to press, even our cover story – the tour of A Bunch of Amateurs – has been postponed until later in the year… and Hairspray’s London return is certainly delayed! So, please check respective society websites and social media posts for all the latest up-to-date information before booking tickets and/or attending performances.

Like all of you, Sardines is monitoring the situation daily and, for now, we’ll be carrying on as usual (whatever that means!) – perhaps employing a bit of ‘the show must go on’ spirit. Let’s hope that by Summer the crisis will have passed but, for now, we hope you all stay safe and well.


Paul Johnson, Editor-in-Chief, Sardines