Test-run of live theatre and concerts to begin this week

Test-run of live theatre and concerts to begin this week

Ciolinist Louis Roden joined Neil Murray, Maura McGrath, arts minister Catherine Martin, Simon Taylor, and Anne Clarke to announce the pilot programme of live performances in the NCH and the Abbey Theatre. Picture: Mark Stedman

Audiences are to set enjoy live performances from this week, beginning with test runs at the National Concert Hall and the Abbey Theatre.

Catherine Martin, the arts minister, has announced a number of Christmas performances that will take place in the coming days and weeks.

The sign-off of the performances — which will include a concert with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and a collection of six five-minute plays by leading Irish playwrights  — comes after weeks of discussion and planning around how to operate the test events safety.

While cinemas, galleries, and other cultural venues have been opened since the relaxing of level 5 restrictions earlier this month, theatres have remained closed under level 3 measures.

Ms Martin said: “The reopening of galleries, museums, and cinemas in recent days has shown us the ways in which arts and culture can enrich our lives, and can do so safely and while operating to strict protocols to protect public health.

"I am acutely aware of the great importance of drama and music in all of our lives, and these events are an important step in showing that these are controlled spaces which can operate safely at this time.”

She added: “2020 has been a very difficult year for those who rely on live performance for their income and for those of us who take so much enjoyment from plays, dance, opera, music, and other live performances. 

"These events will help to demonstrate the capacity of the sector to take creative and responsible approaches to the challenges."

The concert at the National Concert Hall (NCH), which will take place this Saturday, will be a special Christmas celebration. Ticket details are due to be announced in the coming days.

Chair of the NCH, Maura McGrath, said: “Bringing audiences back to live music and theatre will play such an important part for the arts and culture sector returning, and we are delighted to be running this test concert with the Irish Chamber Orchestra."

Directors of the Abbey Theatre, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, said the pilot performances offer a message of hope to the theatre, artists, and the wider theatre community in Ireland.

The Theatre for One performance will open for a limited run from December 18, and will run until the end of the month.

Six five-minute plays will be staged by leading Irish playwrights including Marina Carr, Stacey Gregg, Emmet Kirwan, Louise Lowe, Mark O'Rowe, and Enda Walsh.

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