Isle of Dogs The Space theatre to open up after lockdown
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Audiences are being invited to return to a theatre in a converted church in the Isle of Dogs after lockdown, with its biggest season to date to celebrate its 25th year.
The Space playhouse in Westferry Road has kept going on a wing and a prayer through the Covid crisis, turning to livestream productions when live audiences were banned.
But the theatre now has ambitious plans to stage shows with audiences and continue to stream productions online.
All shows are prepared under social distancing, but ready to switch to online-only “if the worst happens” and there’s another Covid-19 wave.
“Going online was never just a stopgap for us,” artistic director Adam Hemming told the East London Advertiser.
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“We were interested in pursuing online performances before the pandemic. Now we’ve seen the benefits and want to keep online audiences.”
The theatre had prepared three shows in December when theatres were expecting to reopen for Christmas — then the third Covid wave hit and playhouses like The Space had to close.
It managed to keep going during the first lockdown with a crowdfunding campaign led by its patron Sir Ian McKellen - known more for his role as a wizard called Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings.
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The celebrity led the publicity drive that kept the struggling theatre company going, with pledges pouring in to support playwrights, actors, theatre companies and an online workshop.
The first live show with an audience, Lovefool, is planned to open on May 21. It is about a woman wanting to replace her ex-husband and going back to the 1990s.
It is followed by New Moon Monologues opening May 25 and Aaron and Julia on May 26, with all performances also livestreamed.
Some shows are only available online, such as the solo-performed Under Heaven’s Eyes by Christopher Tajah, who is also commissioned to create short pieces for Who Can I Be? spoken word, music, puppetry and film.
More new works are also being commissioned for the 25th anniversary. These include Amalgam and three audio plays at an exhibition of Rosemary Burn’s artwork from which they drew inspiration.