Town’s Regency theatre launches appeal for ‘the show to go on’
PUBLISHED: 11:28 05 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:03 05 June 2020
A town’s playhouse has launched an emergency appeal to enable it to reopen when the coronavirus lockdown eases.
The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds has lost almost all of its income as it is currently closed during the crisis and, like many entertainment venues, is fighting to survive.
It has just launched a campaign with a target of £50,000 to allow it to begin preparations to reopen and renowned writers, directors and actors have given their support, including Armando Iannucci who directed The Personal History of David Copperfield, which was filmed in the town.
While the playhouse receives some local authority funding, this makes up a small percentage of what it needs to keep going and despite an Arts Council Emergency Response Grant “they need to build a bigger pot to raise the essential funds to start to reopen when lockdown eases,” a spokesperson said.
They need time and money to programme and promote the season and for their own shows they need to cast and rehearse, the spokesperson added.
Roger Quince, chairman of Theatre Royal board of trustees, said: “The return to normality is likely to be a long journey – please support this campaign to ensure that our much-loved theatre will be in a position to come out of this long dark period as strong as ever. With your help we can start to put plans in place to reopen our doors once again.”
Adrian Grady, Theatre Royal general manager and interim CEO, said: “We were heartbroken to close our theatre and there are many challenging times ahead but Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds has stood strong for 200 years and we will continue to do so.
“We’re determined to welcome our audiences back and we’re asking for help from the community of Bury St Edmunds, this brilliant town, to help us to do this so that the show can go on!”
The theatre welcomes big names in the world of theatre, television and film to its stage and through its outreach programme it aims to inspire young people, to give local people a voice, to serve the community and to engage marginalised groups for whom theatre and the arts may otherwise be inaccessible.
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It supports its family of freelancers (writers, producers, set designers, technicians, actors to name a few) to create new work.
Mr Iannucci said: “We had a great time filming The Personal History of David Copperfield at the fabulous Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds.
“Like all theatres, it and its staff have been hit hard by the Covid lockdown, and if this beautiful and historic theatre is to open its doors again and become what it has always been, a working theatre in the community, then it’ll need a tremendous amount of help from every quarter. I’m urging everyone to help where they can as the Theatre Royal launches its emergency appeal.”
Sir Derek Jacobi CBE, an actor and stage director, said: “Having spent many happy hours in its beautiful auditorium and on its marvellous stage, I urge you to support this appeal to reopen Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, so that she can be saved for generations to enjoy.”
Actor Robert Glenister added his voice, saying: “I first worked at this wonderful theatre in the early 1990s. It’s a jewel in Bury St Edmunds’ crown and must be preserved at all costs.”
Other backers include journalist, author and radio presenter Libby Purves OBE and writer and actor Gyles Brandreth.
The theatre, which is a charity, said it is “very fortunate” to have ongoing and loyal support from patrons, friends, major and corporate sponsors, without whom (even in normal times) it simply could not survive.
Whether this year’s Theatre Royal panto, Cinderella, will definitely go ahead is still up in the air as it depends on government rules over mass gatherings.
But, there is a small team to progress with the script and start the set design and bookings are still being taken.
“We will keep people informed of our plans. We will probably be in a position to make a decision at the end of August,” a spokesperson said.
•To support the emergency appeal see here.
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