Playwright: Theatres need bailout
LONDON – Playwright James Graham has said an “aggressive government bailout” is needed to save theatres from the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
United Kingdom venues have been shut for four weeks, with all West End performances cancelled until at least May 31.
In several months’ time, “all of the reserves will have dried up and there will be no money left”, Graham warned.
“I don’t even know if there will be a theatre or film industry that we can recognise when this is all over.”
Graham, one of the country’s leading dramatists, has turned his hit West End play Quiz, about the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? coughing scandal, into an ITV mini-series.
While some theatres have started streaming online, he told the PA news agency it was “a collective artform”.
He explained: “You need people around you to see it and do it and there is no middle ground now.
“If it’s going to survive in any form it will need an aggressive government bailout and you either do or you don’t do it. There is either theatre or there isn’t any more.
“So there is kind of a clarity to what we need to ask government to do for it to survive and hopefully they will do it.”
Graham’s stage credits also include This House, Ink and Labour Of Love, and he penned the TV dramas Brexit: The Uncivil War and Coalition.
“I am already exhausted about the scale of the fight ahead because every industry, every small business, are all in the same situation and it’s obviously very upsetting,” he said.
“But because the theatres were the first to close . . . probably, because of the very nature of what they are, gathering people together in close proximity, they will be close to being the last buildings to reopen.”
Sir Andrew Lloyd-Weber recently said he does not expect theatres to reopen until the end of September. (BBC)