Matt Smith and Claire Foy to stage social distanced live theatre at the Old Vic

The Editors
Photo credit: Helen Maybanks

From Harper's BAZAAR

Matt Smith and Claire Foy will host live stagings of theatre production Lungs at the Old Vic. Duncan Macmillan's 2011 play was revived in 2019 by director Matthew Warchus, but it will now come to a new audience via a live-stream from 26 June - 4 July.

Smith and Foy will resume their roles of a young couple debating having a child in a world that is dying thanks political unrest and environmental issues. The subject feels all the more pertinent now given the current events surrounding racial injustice and the covid-19 pandemic.

The actors will act alongside one another from a distance of two metres, while the performance is filmed by a cameraman inside the auditorium of the Old Vic. The public will be able to buy different priced tickets based on ‘seats’ offering the same view (from the comfort of your own home) as inside different areas of the theatre.

Old Vic: In Camera will be available to audiences around the world and 'tickets' will come with a unique login that will be sent to holders at least 24 hours in advance of the performance. These shows are live streamed, not pre-recorded – much like life pre-lockdown, you’ll need to make sure you take your seat (at home) in time for the start of the show.


The news comes amid a powerful piece written by Sam Mendes for the Financial Times, in which he calls for better investment into the theatre world. He highlights the economical value of theatre to the UK, explaining that in 2018 alone theatre venues generated ticket revenue of £1.28 billion, and the cultural sector contributed £32.3 billion.

Theatres have been closed since the end of March, when Britain first went into lockdown. Even as restrictions begin to ease, social distancing measures make it impossible for theatres to reopen putting them in an extremely precarious position.

"In 2018 alone, theatre across the UK played to a collective audience of 34m people — approximately the same number that attended Premier League and English Football League matches," Mendes wrote.

"Last year, theatre brought in £133m in VAT in London alone. In short, theatre and the arts are a giant economic growth engine. That is not because the arts keep us alive (thank you to the NHS for that) but because they give us something worth staying alive for."

Tickets for Lungs will go on sale at 12pm on Wednesday 10 June.

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