Sheffield's Lyceum Theatre boss speak out over future of popular venue

The boss of Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre remains ‘eternally optimistic’ about reopening in the coming months despite facing multiple setbacks over the past year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 9:31 am
The Crucible and the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield.

The theatre was forced to close last March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has been desperately trying to survive through numerous lockdowns and stringent restrictions that have stopped audiences from returning.

Outdoor and indoor performances will be able to return from May 17 with capacity capped at 50 per cent or 1,000 spectators under ‘step three’ of England’s exit from the current restrictions.

Then, from June 21, social distancing could be eased for large events such as stage performances - at this point, the Government hopes ‘all legal limits on social contact can be removed’.

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An empty Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield which has been closed for a year due to Covid. Picture: Chris Etchells

Dan Bates, Chief Executive of Sheffield Theatres Trust said: “We remain eternally optimistic, despite the setbacks we have faced over the past twelve months.

"The safety of our staff and audiences have taken precedence over everything, so when we re-open fully, we want the experience to be entirely safe and full of confidence.

"The May 17 date means we can open with social distancing still in place and will only open the Crucible for the first few weeks."

He added: "The impact of the pandemic has been immeasurable, but I am very grateful to our team for their loyalty and kindness during this extremely challenging period. We don’t know yet when we will be able to return to the same levels of activity in our theatres. "However, we know that it isn’t viable yet for us to produce our usual programme in the same way we did before; and that the shows that were set to visit us have had to cancel or rearrange due to the challenges of touring right now.’

Indoor performances will be able to return from May 17 with capacity capped at 50 per cent or 1,000 spectators Picture: Chris Etchells

"We’re very grateful to the Government that there’s been additional support for us to survive, as well as an extension to the support for freelancers who make up such a huge proportion of our workforce. "This support is vital as we navigate the coming months, but it remains unclear when we'll be able to welcome full audiences back across all three theatres, so until that time, we’ll need to draw on all possible sources of crucial support.”

Speaking about plans to reopen, Dan said: “We have stuck resolutely to the Government’s guidance throughout this period and will continue to do so in the months ahead.

"We have been testing our cast, creative and staff members during the production of The Band Plays On, so we hope to adapt this method for our future projects, provided it remains the safest option.

"Everyone has had to adapt to new ways of working, and a new language and our staff have been brilliant at adapting to all the changes.

“Our programme of events has been ever-changing, but yes, we have plans in the pipeline to produce works we missed out on in 2020 and to welcome back touring companies to the Lyceum stage as soon as they are able to visit us again safely. You are going to have to wait just a bit longer whilst we work on these plans and also how we will celebrate the 50th Birthday of the Crucible.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.