LONDON — When Andrew Lincoln steps onstage at London’s Old Vic Theatre as Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” he looks out on an empty auditorium.
The spectators are beyond the
“It’s a very strange experience, doing something theatrical on a stage and then not feeling the reverb of an audience,” said Lincoln, the British actor who starred for nine seasons in AMC zombie drama “The Walking Dead.”
But that is the reality of London’s West End this holiday season. The Old Vic is among
Christmas is normally a golden time for British
This year, more than half the U.K. population is under tight restrictions that have forced
That includes London, where
Julian Bird, chief executive of industry groups the Society of London Theatre and U.K. Theatre, said the decision would cause "catastrophic financial difficulties for venues, producers and thousands of industry workers — especially the freelancers who make up 70% of the
Ever since Britain went into its first lockdown in March,
Producers say there have been no virus outbreaks linked to
Producer Sonia Friedman, whose show “The Comeback” was forced to close at London's Noel Coward Theatre just days after its opening night, said audiences “have left the
“To have that so abruptly, cruelly and illogically ripped away is heartbreaking,” she said.
The government says it is supporting
The culture department said it had also earmarked 400 million pounds of contingency funding, “and will now use it to support organizations facing financial distress as a result of closure, as well as helping them transition back to fuller opening in the spring.”
The one glimmer of hope is that, as workplaces,
It has been a challenge. Cast and crew are temperature checked daily and tested twice a week. Lincoln has been staying in London, away from his family, during rehearsals. The performers must remain 2
And yet, Lincoln says, the production retains the magic of Dickens’ story about a miser who mends his ways after being given a supernatural tour of his past, present and future. Playwright Jack Thorne’s adaptation has been a hit at the Old Vic for the past three Christmases. But this year it looked unlikely to return.
Speaking to The Associated Press over Zoom, Lincoln said the production came about “because (artistic director) Matthew Warchus was doing what we’re doing. Lots and lots of Zoom calls trying to save the
Lincoln’s own plans, which include a “Walking Dead” movie, have been forestalled by the pandemic, though he hopes the film will start shooting in the spring.
“It does feel like there is a certain sense of positivity and the cavalry’s coming with the vaccines,” he said. “And there’s a real sort of sense of a renewal, hopefully.
“We just feel very fortunate that we’re all working in a
He thinks the story of redemption and people’s dependence on one another has special resonance in 2020, when “the world’s been through this terrible year together.”
“It’s challenging, trying to rehearse for three weeks in masks,” he said. “(But) everybody’s come with such goodwill that we're just sort of throwing it out there and hopefully we’re going to make something that is exciting, thrilling, scary and very moving.
“It’s just a good thing we’re sending out into the world.”
Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
Jill Lawless, The Associated Press