OPINION: Live performances are back - David Bown, Harrogate Theatre
Well, live performances are back! If not at the theatre, but in a whole host of venues around town.
Literally around town in the case of Our Gate.
This was a new commission from local writer Rachael Halliwell, funded by Harrogate Borough Council and Arts Council England.
A beautiful piece of political immersive theatre that travelled through the streets of Harrogate, visiting everywhere along Oxford Street through to One Arch, which certainly had a few unscripted dramatic moments as well.
Directed by the acclaimed Amie Burns-Walker, who is enjoying continued success with Gatsby down in London, it brought together a professional and community cast of over thirty people.
It was an absolute joy to be part of what was not just a celebration of Harrogate, but the return of live theatre.
Thank you to Michael Constantine at Harrogate Borough Council for all his support and commitment to the theatre during these very difficult times.
Some normality is returning to our lives, but we are all very wary that there is a long way to go before we can start to take anything for granted.
Certainly, we are still nervous about the extent to which our audiences will return over the Christmas period as we prepare for panto.
I have to say the signs are encouraging.
Apart from Our Gate, since August we have presented Forget About the Dog at Harrogate Grammar School, BANFF Film Festival, Jason Manford, Rumours of Fleetwood Mac, Jimmy Carr, Billy Ocean, and Michael Bolton at either the Royal Hall or the Convention Centre.
The last three were over the weekend just gone and there was a real buzz around Harrogate, as these three events alone brought nearly 5,000 people into the town centre.
Most of the events have been sold out with no social distance restrictions, which was marvellous to see, with a degree of nervousness of course after a long time away from live performances.
I know many patrons are still concerned about the pandemic and how it will unfold in the months to come.
We do ask audience members to carry with them proof of vaccination, or a negative test result or proof of exemption.
We also advise the use of masks, temperature checks and encourage frequent use of sanitisers.
We request and advise, however, we fully understand that it would be unreasonable to insist.
The audiences have so far been fantastic and considerate of one another.
So, a big thank you to all those that have come along - for being responsible, reasonable and understanding whilst contributing to some cracking nights out.
If you are planning a visit to see a show, please consider your own and other people’s safety in these worrying times.
If you’ve walked past the theatre recently, the scaffolding will tell you that the renovation of the roof is still ongoing.
Like most large building projects, it’s suffered a little from a number of issues like staff having to isolate and the transportation of materials.
The Comedy Festival is fast approaching in October with some exciting acts such as Clinton Baptiste, Tim Vine, Kerry Godliman, Katherine Ryan, Tez Ilyas at the Tepee on the Stray and the National tour of the very funny play Not Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
Check out our website for more details: www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk.