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Alan Yentob presents BBC's imagine... We'll Be Back?

BBC’s imagine…We’ll Be Back? highlights the importance of the performing arts industry

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai First Published 10 February 2021, Last Updated 15 February 2021

Yesterday night, I tuned in to the BBC’s imagine… We’ll Be Back? where television presenter Alan Yentob explored the huge ongoing impact of the global pandemic on the performing arts industry as well as highlighting all the creative work that the industry is doing to help audiences to stay connected.

Drawing on footage captured back in March 2020 when the country went into its first lockdown and consequentially forced theatres to close their doors, the documentary displays how the importance of performing arts has come to light during the pandemic.

British Baritone, Roderick Williams said: “It became clear that for us to have any sort of human existent, that arts are essential. Otherwise, we are machines. If there’s no expression of society or self, then there is no point to any of it I think.”

Calling on industry professionals, the show shines a light on the impact that has been felt in a variety of roles, from producers and actors to dancers, directors and backstage freelancers.

Actor Michael Elcock said: “As an actor, the industry is dry… it’s a literal drought. There is nothing out there at the moment so we are all scrambling and running, trying to find anything we can do.”

Amongst all the uncertainty, one thing we know for sure is all the incredible work that is being done behind the scenes to keep the magic of this industry alive because performing arts is so vital, now more than ever.

Claire Foy and Matt Smith in rehearsals for socially distanced performances of Lungs. (Credit: Manuel Harlan/The Old Vic)

Industry professionals across the board are working more creatively than ever to invent new ideas for audiences to stay connected and to continue to enjoy art while venues remain closed.

Talking about the evolution of The Old Vic‘s digital theatre In Camera series, Artistic Director, Matthew Warchus said: “Our minds have been scrambling since day one as to how to still keep some kind of pulse going with our work.”

The In-Camera series offers theatre fans the chance to stream live theatre from the iconic Old Vic stage with the empty auditorium as a backdrop. It allows us to enjoy and partake in our love of stories in an actual theatre. From Claire Foy and Matt Smith in Lungs to Andrew Scott in Three Kings, they’ve shared an array of productions to enjoy in the comfort and safety of our homes.

Besides digitally streamed events, Summer 2020 also saw a number of outdoor live theatre including the world’s first drive-in opera with the English National Opera’s Drive and Live at Alexandra Palace.

ENO-Drive-Live-La-boheme-at-Alexandra-Palace-ensemble-_-Lloyd-Winters_2x1_qvscptLa Bohème at ENO Drive & Live at the Alexandra Palace. (Credit: Lloyd Winters)

This documentary was not only emotional but truly eye-opening as to just how important our world-renowned industry is to us all, both economically and culturally. It also serves as a reminder of all the wonderful art we have to look forward to when venues are able to reopen.

As Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of the English National Ballet said: “What will not change, is the need for humanity to gather. That is part of the human DNA. We have gathered since time began to share stories. And that’s basically what performing arts, ballet, theatre, does. We come together to share stories, to understand each other, to share our history, to plan or imagine the future together”

If you missed this episode of imagine… We’ll Be Back, you can tune into the replay on BBC iPlayer here

Here at Official London Theatre, we are committed to keeping our fans connected with theatre while we wait for venues to reopen and for us all to be back in those velvet seats. We’ve created a page dedicated entirely to showcasing what theatre you can enjoy online. From world premieres and podcasts to live-streams and more, we hope there is something for you all to enjoy. Click the button below to check it out!

And lastly, if you’d like to support theatre workers and freelancers who are in need of urgent and critical financial support, and who are not eligible for government support, please do consider donating to the Theatre Artists Fund. Every penny goes towards helping those in need and is so appreciated.


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