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Ceiling Collapse at ‘Death of a Salesman’ Leads to Theater Closure, Boycott Threats

The West End revival of “Death of a Salesman” has moved into a temporary space after parts of the ceiling of Piccadilly Theatre collapsed during a Wednesday night performance. Five audience members sustained minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals. The theater will remain closed for the rest of the week.

In the meantime, there will be three rehearsal-style, stripped-down performances of the play at the Young Vic theatre, a smaller venue which will not be able to accommodate all ticket holders. The play’s producers are offering full refunds.

Death of a Salesman” stars Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”) and was directed by Marianne Elliott (“War Horse”). The timing of the ceiling collapse is unfortunate — the play opened this week to sterling reviews. It originally showed at the Young Vic before transferring to the West End.

Though the incident is embarrassing, it could have been worse. In 2013, 79 people were injured during a performance of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” when sections of a deteriorating ceiling fell in on the audience. The two incidents are raising questions about the safety of aging West End venues and inspiring the threat of an actors boycott.

Matt Hood, assistant general secretary of the actors’ union Equity, suggested performers would refuse to work unless safety was guaranteed.

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“Equity members should not be working in unsafe venues,” Hood told the Telegraph. “This is not negotiable. The union will meet with theatre managers as a priority to ensure our members’ welfare.”

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