Our Empty Theatres

BY Almeida Theatre   July 23, 2020

During lockdown, Photographer Helen Murray captured empty theatres across the UK as part of the series Our Empty Theatres. This series includes the Almeida as it was left midway through fit-up for "Daddy" A Melodrama.

Helen also asked people from the theatre industry to respond to the question "What do our empty theatres mean to you?". Their answers are interspersed alongside the photos.

Find more from the series here.

Our Empty Theatres ALMEIDA THEATRE Helen Murray1

"Theatre without its people leaves only bricks, mortar, and a cavern where the notion of story once lived and breathed. Our theatres, left behind with very little support, begin to disappear, and in turn a large part of this country’s cultural identity. We mustn’t allow such spaces to crumble; the show must go on."
Simeon Blake-Hall (Almeida Youth Board member)

Our Empty Theatres ALMEIDA THEATRE Helen Murray38

Our Empty Theatres ALMEIDA THEATRE Helen Murray34

“Locked and loaded.
Voices that have spoken, sung, shouted. Voices still to be heard.
Which are louder in this electric unity of silence and stillness?
Like the split-second when everybody in a packed house is brought to exactly the same feeling at exactly the same moment.
Adam Cork (Composer)

Our Empty Theatres ALMEIDA THEATRE Helen Murray66

"It’s been bittersweet. I have been blessed to explore work in new inventive ways but struggle with the constant anxiety that it could be over at any time."
Abi Falase (Almeida Participation Intern)

Our Empty Theatres ALMEIDA THEATRE Helen Murray58

“For me, a theatre is hallowed ground. Something kinetic happens in that space, in the atmosphere. But like a cathedral, without its people to define it and create that synergy, it’s simply an empty building...and we just can’t let that happen.”
Mariah Louca (Actor and Almeida Freelance Task Force representative)

Our Empty Theatres ALMEIDA THEATRE Helen Murray60

“To me they signify all the opportunities and experiences we’ve missed: the first nights, first dates, new plays, new jobs, nights outs with friends, time with family, and catching up with colleagues. Life happens within these spaces, and it’s so disheartening to see them without any.”
Aaron McGregor (Marketing Manager – CRM & Digital)

Our Empty Theatres ALMEIDA THEATRE Helen Murray23

"Empty theatres mean to me: No job, no income, no life, no soul, no interaction, community spirit vacant - worrying future! But what I do have is hope."
Denise Smith (Child Chaperone)

Our Empty Theatres ALMEIDA THEATRE Helen Murray10

"Though I feel grief for all the jobs lost, the companies unable to assemble, our empty theatres are spaces filled with potential. I feel reassured when I think of all the actors and makers who have passed through their walls; of the ghosts of characters who still, perhaps, linger within, even when the house lights are off. Our empty theatres have a life of their own; are vessels for stories both told and untold. I look forward to the day we can reunite safely with audiences and each other and tell stories once again."
Atri Banerjee (Almeida Resident Director)

Our Empty Theatres ALMEIDA THEATRE Helen Murray65

“There’s an eerie reverence found in an empty theatre space, and though some may seem grander than others all are imbued with a sense of the sacred. Their emptiness is a pause endowed by the energy of the past and of futures yet to be made, a place of possibility, of connection, of emotions awakened. In the stillness of the empty theatre space exists a different kind of church steeped in the residue of its silent daily rhythms and rituals, of nightly audiences long gone and of those unknown who are yet to arrive.”
Miranda Yates (Almeida Access Officer)

Our Empty Theatres ALMEIDA THEATRE Helen Murray69

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