Photographer Helen Murray releases Our Empty Theatres, a photography story featuring 22 empty theatres and quotes from over 100 members of the UK’s theatre community responding to Murray’s photos which were all taken during lockdown.
Murray’s photography series took her to theatres in Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester. As part of the project Murray contacted those working in theatre from wig makers to designers, to writers to front of house staff asking them for their response to our empty theatres.
Commenting on the series photographer Helen Murray says;
“Shooting this series has been sobering. Going back to into these spaces that I know so well and being met with total silence. No background noise, no chitter chatter, no infectious laughs bellowing out of a rehearsal room, just complete silence. The stark opposite of what they should be. In the forefront of my mind throughout shooting was what are these buildings are without all the glorious, wonderful, different kinds of people that inhabit them, from the army of freelancers to the permanent staff, to the ushers, box office, bookshop, stage door, café & bar staff, volunteers, community & audience members?
I wanted to contact these people to ask them ‘what do our empty theatres mean to you?’
In response to Helen's provocation, designer Lily Arnold responded:
“As a designer, theatre buildings become part of the creative team. Collaborators. We discover their strengths and their weaknesses, how best to harness their potential, try to show them in their best light. They must miss the daily massage of thousands of footsteps, the subtle drone of brains whirring and the collective warmth of an audience’s breath. I think perhaps they feel as bereft of us as we do of them.” Lily Arnold, Designer