facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
The Young Vic. Photo by Helen Murray.

The Young Vic. Photo by Helen Murray.

Helen Murray explores Britain’s empty theatres

By Hira Desai First Published 11 August 2020, Last Updated 12 August 2020

Theatre photographer Helen Murray has released a powerful new digital photo exhibition capturing the images of 22 empty theatres.

Helen’s Our Empty Theatres photography series was taken during the lockdown while adhering to the Government’s guidelines. She travelled to theatres across the UK from Leeds and Liverpool to London and Manchester and along the way collected quotes from over 100 members of the theatre community which have also been included in the photo story.

Commenting on the series, Helen Murray said: “Over the course of lockdown I set myself a challenge, to create a photo series that captured this moment in history but that also told a story of its own. I kept coming back to our empty theatres – these spaces that were now without life, without people and without stories.

“I visited and captured a total of 22 theatre spaces in London, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. Shooting this series has been sobering. Going back to into these spaces that I know so well and being met with total silence. No background noise, no chitter chatter, no infectious laughs bellowing out of a rehearsal room, just complete silence. The stark opposite of what they should be. In the forefront of my mind throughout shooting was what are these buildings are without all the glorious, wonderful, different kinds of people that inhabit them, from the army of freelancers to the permanent staff, to the ushers, box office, bookshop, stage door, café & bar staff, volunteers, community & audience members? I wanted to contact these people to ask them what do our empty theatres mean to you?

“As the theatre sector continues to face uncertainty I hope the series serves as a reminder of why we must fight to fill these buildings with the people that make them thrive and not forget those who have been underrepresented in the past.

“My photos are a love letter to not just the theatres themselves but to the people, artists and communities who give these buildings life. I invite you to share what #OurEmptyTheatres means to you.”

From undressed mannequins at The Young Vic and empty costume racks at the Battersea Arts Centre to a copy of The Evening Standard “London at centre of UK virus outbreak” flopped over a seat at the Hampstead Theatre, this collection is a striking, powerful tribute to theatre and captures stories untold during these unprecedented times. It is truly a piece of art that will be treasured for years to come.

To see the series in full, please visit Helen Murray’s official photography website here.

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.