The U.K.’s Casting Directors’ Guild has called on the local film and TV industry to safeguard the theater sector as it weathers the blistering impact of COVID-19.
Members of the independent guild span all three sectors, but the organization has said film and TV production companies are better positioned to support theater’s talent pool with a range of “financial and creative partnerships” as the industry looks to get back on its feet post-coronavirus.
Speaking to Variety, CDG member Andy Brierley says, “The reality is theaters will have to close and theater practitioners will be left without being paid. What we’d love is to encourage the film and TV part of the industry, which is traditionally a more affluent part of the sector, to say, ‘What can we do to help?’”
The casting director adds, “It’s not about trying to tell film and TV, ‘Here are the five things you can do to help theater survive COVID-19.’ It’s about encouraging an open dialogue between the two halves of the industry, so if there is something theaters need, then TV and film can step up and say, ‘Can we pay for a young writers scheme? Can we keep the wheels of talent turning?’”
CDG member Sophie Parrott highlighted that film and TV and the theater world have a “very symbiotic relationship” in the U.K. “Our success lies in the unity between those different genres,” she says.
Some of the country’s most global-facing names, such as “Fleabag” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “1917” director Sam Mendes and “12 Years a Slave” actor Chiwetel Ejiofor came from theater backgrounds.
“Put simply, television comedy, for example, would be forever changed without the Edinburgh Fringe, leading actors in studio films would never have been discovered without the bold experimentation of affiliate theaters and celebrated screenwriters would have gone unnurtured without their local theater’s new writing schemes,” said the CDG in a statement.
U.K.’s theater sector has been paralyzed for close to two months, having first closed doors the week of March 16. On Tuesday, industry org Society of London Theatre (SOLT) revealed the shutdown will remain in place until June 28, and could be extended. It is likely the country’s theater venues will open at different times once lockdown restrictions are eased.
Leading theater producer Cameron Mackintosh told the BBC on Sunday that the West End may not be able to stage major musicals until early next year.