Judi Dench doesn’t believe she’ll see theaters reopen in her lifetime

The Chelsea Flower show

Judi Dench is 85 years young, and she’ll be 86 in December. She’s an icon of film and television, but for decades, she was an icon of the British stage too. She loves the theater, she’s played all of the great roles on stage, and she supports British actors spending time treading the boards. But with the pandemic, theaters around the world have been closed indefinitely. Here in America, Broadway has been “closed” until 2021, which is a massive hit to the economy and to the larger entertainment community. So it is in Britain too – no one knows when the British theaters will be able to reopen. Judi doesn’t think they’ll reopen in her lifetime. She has some thoughts and they are depressing:

Dame Judi Dench fears many theaters will not reopen “in [her] lifetime”.

The 85-year-old actress is concerned about the UK arts industry amid the coronavirus pandemic as even within the next wave of lockdown easing, venues are still unable to stage live performances, because she thinks the situation is growing increasingly “desperate” any many places won’t survive.

She told Channel 4 News: “When you hear that The Old Vic is in trouble, when you hear that the Nuffield in Southampton is in trouble, and Leicester and Nottingham. This is what we rely on and it’s a desperate feeling. And when will they ever open again? I don’t know, certainly, I’m sure, not in my lifetime. I don’t know, I can’t see how it’s going to recover.

“It’s not as if we don’t bring a great deal of money to the economy because I think, last year alone, we brought in 1.3 billion into the economy. So, it is necessary. Of course there are lots of other necessary things. I’m not saying that it should be more prioritized than anything else, but it just is going to be a very serious effect on all of us.”

Even though social distancing measures are being cut from 2m to “one metre plus” in the UK, the ‘Skyfall’ actress doesn’t think it will make a difference to theaters being able to open their doors. She added: “If the theaters now close and become dark, I don’t know when we’re going to get them back. We do need a big injection. You can’t run a theater with people sitting six seats apart. You can’t run a theater when it is a quarter full.”

[From Martinsville Bulletin]

I mean, governments can bail out corporations and huge businesses, why not a theater bailout too? That’s what FDR did during the Great Depression – the government not only invested in public works projects, they also invested in the arts. And Judi’s right, there will be some theaters and theater people who will never be able to come back from this, losing an entire year of income.

The Chelsea Flower show

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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6 Responses to “Judi Dench doesn’t believe she’ll see theaters reopen in her lifetime”

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  1. Dalloway says:

    Dame Judi is such a champion to local theatre in England. She is patron of these teeny, tiny community theatres in villages where the whole town does panto and she is beloved. I fear she might be right and it’s so sad.

    The Chancellor has provided a bailout to theatres once Royal Albert Hall and Old Vic announces they were likely to go insolvent. It may help these institutions stay open, but I fear for the small theatres throughout the country. Our local theatre is just behind my flat and and they’ve be able to do shows in the day time in the outdoor amphitheater at least.

  2. MarcelMarcel says:

    Here in Australia it’s really heartbreaking thinking about the negative impact has on the arts industry. Especially because it’s already underfunded. I was in an exhibition that closed early. And my colleague was in a play that shut down.
    It must so overwhelming and stressful for theatre people right now! I can’t even imagine it. At least I can work on my art practice at home.
    Anyhow, we do have one or two films in production right now in Australia. But I worry about the fate of Arthouse cinema, indie cinema & theatre productions.

  3. Charfromdarock says:

    We have flattened the curve where I live. Performances spaces, including indoor theatres, are reopening next week at limited capacity. Outdoor performances have continued all summer.

    It’s not the same and won’t be for a long time and the UK had a very different pandemic response/experience but hopefully Dame Judi will see theatres open again.

  4. Haapa says:

    We need a new Federal Art Project and WPA.

  5. Lindy says:

    I would love to see a new WPA and New Deal with tons of support for the arts! Honestly with the insane money being made by the billionaires right now, just tax 50% of their yearly profits and use that money. They’ll still have more than they can spend in two lifetimes.

  6. Lindy says:

    I would love to see a new WPA and New Deal with tons of support for the arts! Honestly with the insane money being made by the billionaires right now, just tax 50% of their yearly profits and use that money. They’ll still have more than they can spend in two lifetimes.