Actor Liz Carr calls for mask-only theatre performances

<span>Photograph: May James/Reuters</span>
Photograph: May James/Reuters

Silent Witness star says venues should hold separate shows so people most at risk of Covid can attend

Separate performances reserved for those who want to wear masks or socially distance should be held in theatres, the actor Liz Carr has suggested.

The Silent Witness star was concerned that theatres were becoming inaccessible to people who have underlying health conditions as the number of people continuing to wear masks falls, despite a new surge in Covid infections.

“Theatre should remain accessible even to those of us who have health conditions,” she told BBC News.

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Speaking backstage after she was named best supporting actress at the Olivier awards on Sunday for her role in The Normal Heart, she said: “If I’d had a five-minute speech, I would’ve talked about how I haven’t been to the theatre in over two years. This is a frightening night for me.

“Now, you could say, ‘Yeah but you did a play, Liz, in front of 1,200 people every night’.

“Yes, but I was on stage with everybody who was testing, everybody in the cast tested every day, so I felt safer than being a random member of the public in an audience around people I didn’t know.

“I’m not sure about [the issue of] everybody wearing face masks. Personally, I think yes they should in indoor environments because Covid-19 is airborne.

“But I think theatres could think about having safer performances. I think they should have face mask performances that are more socially distanced. In the same way you might have a British Sign Language performance, I think you should have Covid-safer performances.”

The BBC reported that many arts and entertainment venues offer accessible showings – such as subtitled cinema screenings for deaf people – but few split audiences based on their wish to adopt a more cautious approach to Covid than is now required.

“Some of my friends who weren’t ready to come and see the show, they came to see the dress rehearsal, because they didn’t feel safe enough to come,” Carr told the BBC.

“So I think performances with less capacity and mandatory face masks, every show should be doing that to make sure theatre remains accessible even to those of us who have health conditions.”

Last October, the Frozen actor Stephanie McKeon tweeted: “A plea to amazing London audiences: Please please please wear your masks in the theatre. We are working so hard on our end to ensure everyone is safe and to keep our shows running. We would be so grateful if you could help us out and do your bit too. Thank you.”