Dublin Theatre Festival announces ‘reimagined’ plans for September

Wexford Opera Festival and Dublin Fringe Festival also announce alternative events

From left, Megan McDonnell, Hazel Clifford, Michael Shea, Aoibheann McCann and Holly Hannaway in the Lyric Theatre and Dublin Theatre Festival co-production of The Playboy of the Western World which had been due to be part of the festival. Photograph: Mark Stedman

From left, Megan McDonnell, Hazel Clifford, Michael Shea, Aoibheann McCann and Holly Hannaway in the Lyric Theatre and Dublin Theatre Festival co-production of The Playboy of the Western World which had been due to be part of the festival. Photograph: Mark Stedman

 

Dublin Theatre Festival has announced it will hold a “reimagined” smaller version this year in what it describes as “a message of hope”.

“Due to the ongoing impact of the global pandemic, the festival that we had been busy planning for up until a few months ago is no longer possible,” the festival says. “So we have been reimagining the programme, in dialogue with artists and partner organisations. Responding to their feedback and encouraged by our friends and supporters, we are working to make live theatre happen this autumn.

“We believe that the values of imagination, civility and solidarity that we cherish in theatre will also be essential in renewing Irish society. We are determined to emerge from this time, changed and stronger, continuing to be a key platform to show Irish theatre to the world and to bring the best of international work to Dublin.”

This is the latest in a series of announcements from major live performance-based events that were due to take place this autumn. Wexford Festival Opera confirmed this week that this year’s planned 70th-anniversary programme would be deferred until 2021, and unveiled a free, “reimagined” event online, Waiting for Shakespeare… The Festival in the Air, which will run from October 11th to 18th.

Dublin Fringe Festival has promised a “Pilot Light Edition” for 2020, to “keep her lit”. The festival will run from September 5th to 20th, with a smaller programme that will include outdoor performances, site-specific shows for small audiences, solo art adventures and interactive projects at home.

Arts funding

Under the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap, theatres and cinemas can reopen from July 20th if social-distancing measures can be implemented. Announcing an additional €25 million in funding for arts and heritage on Tuesday, Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said that the sector had “suffered more than most in the crisis and will continue to experience difficult and challenging times long after other sectors have returned to work”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that, although he had been told cinemas could “operate at a profit” while ensuring customers were socially distanced, keeping people 2m apart was tougher for live performances and theatres, “so that’s going to be trickier”.

Dublin Theatre Festival was due to run from September 24th to October 11th. It says it expects to announce details of its new programme in August. “We will continue to monitor and work within Government guidelines to ensure the safety of our colleagues and our audiences,” it says.

“This is a precarious time for the arts in Ireland, and the performing arts have been affected particularly badly by the pandemic. The crisis has amplified the fragility of a sector that does so much to enrich our lives and to carry Ireland’s reputation around the world. The thing we love to do, to gather together and experience live performance, has been impossible since stages went dark three months ago. So many events have been cancelled and so much work has been wiped out. Theatre is fighting for its future.”

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