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Supporting your local theatre

In this week’s post, WCTT’s creative producer, Andy Alty, explains why supporting New Wimbledon Theatre is so important to the Young Actors Company.

“Even though we rehearse in the Studio every week (in normal circumstances), I still get a buzz every time I set foot in New Wimbledon Theatre.

There’s always something fun going on in there – a new show being brought in or packed up, actors arriving, warming up and rehearsing, stage crew and front of house staff getting ready to welcome another audience…

Sometimes there’s a show in progress and you can feel the adrenaline in the air backstage.

It’s thrilling even after 10 years of being in and around the building.

Act Two in Twist! on the main stage at New Wimbledon Theatre, February 2020

Yesterday I finally went back into the theatre, for the first time since the lockdown in March, to collect some props we’d left behind when Act One’s show, The Empress, was so sadly cancelled.

It was so strange to be back – and to find the place so quiet: no posters or banners adorning the theatre, foyer locked up, bars deserted and the back of house eerily silent.

Theatres are living, breathing things and an empty theatre just feels plain wrong.

This is happening right across the UK, and for those of us in the profession it’s deeply upsetting.

Performances have been postponed, contracts cancelled and livelihoods have vanished overnight.

With little prospect of theatres reopening before Christmas, producers are worried for the future and some venues have already closed their doors permanently

This week’s government annoucement of a £1.5 billion investment package is very welcome and will help a lot, but it won’t cover the cost of the damage wreaked by COVID-19.

As a company, our thoughts go out to all the individuals who are paying the price – not least our alumni, including Noah Thomas, who had only just started his run in the titular role of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie when theatres closed.

Andy (left) congratulated Noah (centre) backstage in January 2020 as he took on the role of Jamie New in the West End

And we extend our thoughts and support to the venues, too. For us, New Wimbledon Theatre is much more than just a commercial venue – it’s a valued part of our community, hosting schools, colleges, charities, youth theatres, dance and music groups.

It’s the spiritual home of the Young Actors Company and we’d be lost without it.

So what can we do? How can we help?

The simple answer is – get online and buy tickets for a show! Any show. Just choose one – there are lots of them and you can book months ahead.

It’s a small but significant investment. You’ll be helping to keep the theatre alive until it’s safe to open its doors: not only will our young actors be able to tread the boards there once again, you’ll also have a great show to look forward to!”

Directing team YAC Wimbledon
Our 2018 creative team having fun on the main stage at New Wimbledon Theatre

Supporting your local theatre

Here are some simple ideas if you want to support the theatre industry:

  • Check out the schedule at New Wimbledon Theatre and grab some tickets for a future performance
  • If you’ve bought a ticket for a show that has been cancelled, considering donating your ticket money, rather than claiming for a refund
  • Donate to a charity that supports actors, such as the Actors’ Benevolent Fund
  • Find out if your local theatre is opening its bar or cafe – and pop in to enjoy a socially distanced drink: for example, the bar at Southwark Playhouse will be opening from 9 July 2020
  • Watch online – and donate when you can: look out for digital shows with tickets or fundraising links
  • Support your local youth theatre: for theatre to survive, we need young people to train and learn the craft. You can support WCTT’s Young Actors Company by ‘attending’ our online shows this summer (watch this space for ticket info!)