Nottingham Theatre Royal look forward to re-opening and a hybrid future

by | Mar 22, 2021

Live theatre will be more accessible than ever before when venues re-open this year, according to the director of audiences and programming at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall.

Jonathan Saville hopes the venue’s historic 1,107 capacity Theatre Royal and 2,257-seater Concert Hall will be able to open for the first time in 15 months in June when lockdown restrictions ease. But performances are likely to feature a digital twist as touring shows seek to retain the broader audiences they have established via live stream and on-demand broadcasts during the pandemic.

Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall have hosted eight productions with partner organisations via streaming in the last 12 months. Theatre companies Wise Children and Tall Stories were among those who broadcasted shows via Theatre Royal. Their performances of Romantics Anonymous and Snail and the Whale were watched globally in countries including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada and the USA via TicketCo Media Services fully integrated streaming and ticketing platform.

Hybrid future

Jonathan predicts demand for online broadcasting will increase via the delivery of hybrid events.

“The market for digital theatre has been accelerated,” he said. “While it’s impossible to recreate the live theatre experience, theatre company’s that use live streaming to subsidise revenue from physical customers are hitting new audiences. Digital theatre breaks down attendance barriers for financial, health or accessibility issues and allows shows to target audiences that would struggle to attend physically. We present the work of others on our stages, so we won’t enforce digital theatre ourselves. But we will certainly accommodate it as live streaming provides the venues and the producers with additional financial reward on top of physical ticket sales.”

Impact

Hosting a handful of digital performances does not mask the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the venue and its staff, though.

More than 200 performances have been rescheduled with 150 additional shows cancelled. It has presented the theatre’s team with an exhausting challenge of navigating through three lockdowns, an ever-changing tiered system and a future mixed with optimism and caution.

Jonathan added: “Financially, digital theatre and live streaming has provided a small financial bonus. It’s been a devastating year financially and our turnover has plummeted after it reached £18m in the year before COVID-19. it has been a really difficult situation to manage, in truth. For staff it’s demoralising and frustrating. But the safety of theatregoers and everyone connected with our theatre must always be of paramount importance. Response to our digital shows and planned socially distanced performances was great, we must remember that and look forward to a brighter 2021.”

Global audience

David Kenny, Head of Global Partnerships at TicketCo Media Services, added: “Nottingham Theatre Royal and Concert Hall has inspired many other UK venues to take a lead on live streaming performances following the successful delivery of Romantics Anonymous and The Snail and the Whale. We hope venues can open their doors to the public this summer and look forward to helping them continue to reach a global audience via online broadcasting.”

Under current Government guidelines, Nottingham’s Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall will open its doors on from Sunday 13 June with a socially distanced performance from the Kanneh-Mason Family.

For further information and the latest news on re-opening times, visit Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham (trch.co.uk).

TicketCo Media Services is a cloud-based platform that provides pay-per-view streaming and on-demand services combined with a digital ticketing solution.

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Written by Greig Box Turnbull

Experienced communications and strategic PR advisor, with a strong background in journalism and public relations. Founder of Fortitude Communications, director of Oxford City ice hockey club and Vice Chair of Oxford United in the Community. A former Daily Mirror journalist and Oxford United FC managing director.

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