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26th Jun 2020

Dame Judi Dench fears theatres won’t reopen ‘in her lifetime’ in the UK

Jade Hayden

“None of us have any security or knowledge of when it will come back.”

Dame Judi Dench has expressed concern that theatres in the UK won’t reopen in her lifetime.

The award winning film actor, who also boasts an incredibly successful stage career, said that the lack of funding the performing arts industry in the UK has received during the coronavirus pandemic will be detrimental to theatres reopening.

Restaurants, bars, and cinemas are due to reopen across the Uk from July 4, but Dench is concerned that theatres will not be able to operate at reduced capacity.

“What’s so strange is that we imagine this is a temporary thing, this is happening just now, and when the pandemic passes, it’s all going to go back to normal,” she told Wednesday’s Channel 4 News.

“It will maybe for some people, but it certainly won’t for all of us in the theatre.

“You can’t run a theatre, for instance, with people sitting six seats apart. You can’t run a theatre if it’s quarter full. It doesn’t just affect the public it affects all of us: the crew, the people who make wigs, the people who dress us.”

Dench went on to say that nobody in the industry has “any security or knowledge of when it will come back.”

“These are theatres that we rely on and it’s a desperate feeling,” she said. “Will they ever open again? I don’t know – certainly I’m sure not in my lifetime.

“I’m not saying it should be more prioritised than anything else, but it’s going to have a very serious effect on all of us (…) If the theatres now become dark, I don’t know when we’re going to get them back.”

The Telegraph reported recently that up to 70 percent of arts venues in the UK including theatres will be bankrupt by the end of lockdown.

West End producer Sonia Friedman wrote that British theatre “is on the brink of total collapse.”

“Without an urgent government rescue package, 70 percent of our performing arts companies will be out of business before the end of this year,” she wrote.

“More than 1,000 theatres around the country will be insolvent and might shut down for good.”

You can watch Dame Judi Dench’s interview on Channel 4 here: