The Maltings Theatre Peter Pan 13 Apr 2021
On the 18th of December 2020, we closed down our show, Peter Pan, with one final show at the Alban Arena in St Albans. It was the eve of Tier 3, which within days would turn into Tier 4, and then a long Winter lockdown.
The house was full. In Covid terms, a full socially distanced house is of course only half full, but every socially distanced and spaced out audience we played to in 2020 somehow expanded to fill the space. The sheer support and goodwill, and the trust they had placed in us to look after them is a feeling I will never forget. Theatre is so much about the communication and rapport between players and audience – a show is different every night depending on the mood and response of its audience. Our Covid audiences gave us so much sustenance, and the faith to keep working hard.
The show was a massive leap of faith. Led by our Artistic Director Adam, the whole company had wholeheartedly committed to the project, knowing that there was always a chance that Covid might rear its head again. We actors agreed to share some financial risk by deferring some of our wages until the show opened, and our dedicated company of Lighting and Sound Designers and Operators, Stage Management, Crew, Costume, Movement Directors, Composer, Set Designers and Builders, Administrators and Marketers put in hours and hours of work to create something which we hoped would entertain and move our audiences, firing their imaginations and taking them away from the slightly bleak reality that was 2020 for a couple of magical hours.
Performing our beautiful show that last time, the result of hours of hard work, knowing that after just 6 performances of a 38 show run we were to close, not knowing if or when we would be able to share what we’d made with the rest of our audience, who had put their trust in us and bought their tickets, was tough. The end of the show in particular was always emotional for me, but when I got to the lines “Nana watches, with all the certainty of a nurse who knows she will never have another day off.” I could barely get my words out through the tears. I had flipped from being gainfully employed, doing a job I adored, to the prospect of endless days off.
3 months on I am deliriously happy that this summer we are bringing back our beautiful show, reimagined into the open air. The Roman Theatre of St Albans is a particularly magical place to be on a balmy midsummer evening. I have spent many happy summers there, having been a performer in the festival since its infancy, and I’m so excited to finally share our Peter Pan with all the people who kept the faith with us back in December. In testing times people need escapism, and I’m so proud to be a small part of offering that.
Anna Franklin for The Maltings Theatre
Peter Pan returns to the stage from May 28th – June 27th at The Roman Theatre Open Air Festival. Tickets are on sale now at www.maltingstheatre.co.uk
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