Updated: Jan 27, 2021
If anyone had said during our sell out Christmas show in 2019, The 39 Steps, that we’d be closed throughout 2020, we wouldn’t have believed them. Yet here we are at a time when we’d normally be six productions into the year, well into rehearsals for the next Christmas show and the theatre doors are firmly closed. They’ll likely stay that way until spring/summer 2021 at the earliest.
The last time actors performed here was during the New Writing Festival in February. Since then the stage has remained dark and the auditorium seats eerily empty; longing for the sound of the audience’s laughter and applause.
Not since before the doors reopened in 1957 has the theatre been unused for so long. Our members are missing it greatly as are the friends of the theatre who love our events. What really touched our Lantern hearts is that from the moment the doors closed, we had messages of support from so many people; along with donations sent to the charity.
But just because our doors are closed it doesn’t mean the theatre grinds to a halt. Bills still have to be paid, maintenance must be taken care of, accounts need to be filed and most importantly - we have a community of creative members and audiences who are longing for something theatrical to enjoy. So we began to think about what that might look like, even though our doors remain locked. The Creative Team approached our talented members for new writing that we can film remotely, or socially distanced, to release online. This means that the Lantern will have new productions for you and can still spread some Christmas joy, even if it can’t be live on stage. We’ll also bring you updates and interviews through Facebook Live.
As a small independent charity, being closed is incredibly difficult for us. We rely on our income to support our community projects, creative programme and to maintain this important historic building – Sheffield’s oldest surviving theatre. We’re hoping the online projects will be enjoyable for everyone involved and maybe bring some donations to the charity, from viewers, for the upkeep of the venue.