Post-Christmas shows cancelled

Dec 21 2021 | By More

Panto and ballet to close on Christmas Eve

The King’s panto Sleeping Beauty and Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Festival Theatre will close on Christmas Eve, cancelling all remaining performances, as Nicola Sturgeon limits theatre audiences to 200 and re-imposes one metre social distancing.

Capital Theatres CEO Fiona Gibson said the closures would have serious financial implications and called for “significant funding” from the Scottish government to ensure that “when we emerge from this latest pandemic crisis Scotland still has a theatre industry to cherish”.

Nicola Sturgeon addresses Holyrood on 21 December. Screengrab: Æ

The closures come in response to the increased Covid restrictions on public events, limiting indoor events to audiences of 200 seated or 100 standing and outdoor event audiences to 500, announced by the  First Minister at Holyrood on Tuesday 21 December.

Capital Theatres runs both the King’s and Festival Theatres. It will lose 36 performances of the pantomime between 26 December and Sunday 16 January, and four performances of the ballet between Wednesday 29 and Friday 31 December.

The Enormous Christmas Turnip which is on in its third space, The Studio, will continue until the end of its run on 31 December operating under the new regulations.

socially distanced performances

The Brunton theatre’s pantomime Hansel and Gretel survived a Covid scare with two cancelled performances on Monday 20 but has now re-opened. Management at the Brunton told Æ that they have strict Covid measures in place for the safety and wellbeing of their staff, performers and audiences.

They said: “The Brunton presented socially distanced live performances in 2020. We are contacting all customers who have purchased tickets for one of our performances of Hansel and Gretel from 26 to 31 December 2021 with a view to assessing the viability of presenting socially distanced performances of Hansel and Gretel.”

Nicola Sturgeon gave a Covid briefing to parliament at Holyrood on Tuesday 21 December. She said that the rising wave of infections from the Omicron variant will have a considerable effect on health and social care.

Outlining the proposed regulations, she said: “None of these are being proposed lightly, but we do consider them necessary to help stem the increase in cases, safeguard health and protect the NHS, the emergency services and the economy while we complete and get the full effect of the booster programme.

New audience limits set

“First, from 26 December – inclusive of that date – for a period of three weeks, we intend to place limits on the size of live public events that can take place. This does not apply, let me stress, to private life events such as weddings.

“For indoor standing events the limit will be 100; for indoor seated events it will be 200; and for outdoor events 500 seated or standing.

“Physical distancing of one metre will be required at events that go ahead within these limits.”

Commenting on Capital Theatres’ decision to cancel the pantomime and ballet, CEO Fiona Gibson said: “We are devastated to find ourselves in a position where keeping the King’s and Festival Theatres open is simply not viable for this period, especially after we have worked so hard to build our business back up after 15 months of darkness.

“It’s a huge disappointment for our staff, the artists on stage and of course audiences for whom a visit to the theatre is often a highlight of the holiday period. A small consolation is that we can continue to entertain our youngest audience members in the studio with The Enormous Christmas Turnip.”

serious financial implications

Gibson warned that the news has greater resonance than the simple cancelling of a few performances.

She said: “These closures, which come at our busiest time of year, will have serious financial implications and we urge Scottish Government to clarify and administer the support available to the cultural sector as quickly as possible.

“Significant funding is needed to ensure that when we emerge from this latest pandemic crisis Scotland still has a theatre industry to cherish.”

The productions of White Christmas at the Playhouse, Christmas Dinner at the Lyceum and WILF at the Traverse theatres had already closed on Monday 20 December due to issues surrounding Covid-19 in the companies or, in the case of WILF, as a precautionary measure.


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