What will theatres look like when they reopen as part of the lockdown roadmap?

Credit: PA

The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating the arts, with theatres and arts venues forced to lower their curtains for the best part of a year.

But it is hoped the doors will open as restrictions lift come the spring and theatres are getting ready to welcome visitors again - albeit with social distancing measures in place, at least at first.

Shakespeare's Globe on London's South Bank announced a new season on Wednesday, featuring some of the bard's biggest crowdpleasers, including Romeo and Juliet and a Midsummer Night's Dream.

The outdoor theatre is set to welcome visitors on May 19 provided the conditions are met for stage three of the government’s roadmap that allows for theatres, galleries and museums to open again.

But while the plays may be familiar, the experience will not be quite the same.

Minack Theatre Credit: PA

There will be staggered arrival times, allocated entrances, no intervals, pre-ordereddrinks, and - at least for the initial couple of months - the Globe's famous groundling standing area will be seated.

There will also be reduced capacity in the familiar 'O'.

Along the river, the National Theatre, is gearing up to open in June.

Michael Sheen is lined up to star in Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood staged in what will be a half full Olivier Theatre.

After Life, a new play by Jack Thorne based on the film by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, will reopen the Dorfman Theatre in front of just a maximum of 120 people.

Both productions will run until July 24, with socially distanced seating for the entire run.

Flight is 'an astonishing 3-D graphic novel' Credit: PA

The Olivier, the largest of the three permanent theatres at the National, usually accommodates 1,150 people in its fan-shaped auditorium, but will seat around 500 with social distancing, and the production will be performed in-the-round.

Outdoor theatres have the natural advantage - literally in the case of Cornwall's spectacular Minack perched on the edge of the Atlantic ocean. It plans to open on May 17 (its first show, Fisherman's Friends is already a sell out).

Again, customers will be given timed tickets, with one way systems in place inside the theatre.

The indoor cafe will remain closed, but you can still get your interval ice cream from the outdoor kiosk.

London's innovative Bridge Theatre has incorporated the social distancing measures into its new play, Flight, set to open - subject to the roadmap - on May 17.

The furlough scheme helped support workers in industries forced to shut, like theatre. Credit: PA

Audience members will be seated alone in a booth and given headphones as an "astonishing 3-D graphic novel" is unveiled.

But, after a year of false starts, many theatres have decided to remain closed until they are able to welcome audiences without social distancing measures.

ATG - which own several theatres around the UK including the Lyceum in London's West End - told ITV News they will await a firm date.

"We have currently suspended performances as far as 17 May, but we do not currently plan to reopen with social distancing measures in place so we await a date from the government as to when that might be possible," a spokesperson said.

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