THE LOFT Theatre will be welcoming back audiences in December.
The Leamington theatre, which has been closed for more than eight months, will reopen with a socially distanced production of Alan Bennett’s The Wind in the Willows.
The theatre has been ‘See It Safely’ approved, meaning the Society Of London Theatre & UK Theatres has verified the Loft complies with latest government and industry covid 19 guidelines to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and audience members.
Over the past few months the Loft team – made up almost entirely by volunteers – pulled together to ensure the building was as safe as possible to reopen.
Measures undertaken included having the building ‘fogged’ by Leamington company Fogging Now. Fogging involves using an organic, non-toxic, non-hazardous, alcohol and chemical free substance to deep clean and disinfect buildings.
Other measures taken include providing hand sanitiser for those arriving in the building, ensuring the wearing of face masks and implementing social distancing.
Production manager Kim Green, explained how the cast and crew were keeping safe.
“The actors in the cast of the re-opening production, are divided into two teams of six, creating two ‘bubbles’. They rehearse in those bubbles, still maintaining social distancing. We have devised a strict one-way system for the cast and crew, which starts at the stage door, and doesn’t stop until they leave the theatre via the workshop door.
“Our actors have also been ‘colour coded’. They each have a different coloured plastic storage box, containing their script, a bottle of hand sanitiser – both also colour coded – and anything else they need to keep with them. Anything an individual actor needs moving on stage will be moved by that actor.”
Artistic director, Sue Moore never gave up hope of a return to the stage in 2020.
She said: “I was keen that if we did, we should stage a full length, socially distanced production, but of course we needed a whole team who were prepared to engage with that idea. The way this reopening has been brought about is a testament to the character and spirit of this terrific theatre company.”
Loft chairman David Fletcher said lockdown had been a huge challenge for all theatres, but the Loft had taken the opportunity to make extensive improvements to the theatre.
He added: “We will re-open with care and confidence, and with a renewed energy.”
For more information about the new safety measures in place at The Loft, visit the Safety Q&A page on the Loft website.
The Wind in the Willows runs from December 2 to December 12.
Visit lofttheatrecompany.com for tickets and further details.