THE TORCH THEATRE: ONE YEAR ON AND THE SHOW WILL GO ON
Theatres and entertainment venues across Wales are today (March 16) marking 12 months since the curtains came down temporarily, due to the Covid pandemic. The Torch Theatre was one of those venues where we had to close the doors and stop performing. One year on, our message is that we miss you – the staff, the performers and the audience and we look forward to welcoming you all back as soon as it is safe to do so.
On March 16 the Torch Theatre is involved in the #WeMissYou #HiraethuAmdanat campaign organised by Creu Cymru, the development agency for theatres and art centres in Wales. Our building has been lit up in one of the colours of the rainbow as a sign of hope, as we continue our preparations to open the doors to the public as soon as we are allowed to do so. Messages are also being shared on our social media accounts telling people how much we miss them.
Despite being closed to the general public, The Torch Theatre has not been empty during this challenging period for the arts. Physical audience may not have been allowed in, but for The Torch Theatre the show has gone on, supporting the local community during the Covid pandemic and moving performances and outreach activity online to reach new audiences. We have been creative, offering our audiences theatrical experiences from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Over the past 12 months the Torch Theatre has been supporting the Covid pandemic effort in many ways. At the start of the first lockdown, we donated unused food and drink to Patch, delivered bags of kindling to the most vulnerable members of the local community and the theatre’s technical team, with your support, made over 1000 face shields for keyworkers, nurses and carers.
Theatres and entertainment venues are one of the few sectors in Wales that has remained closed throughout the pandemic, but we have been creative to offer our audiences online experiences while our doors remain closed. We have kept our Youth Theatre engaged via online workshops and in our specially converted Studio last autumn with Covid precautions in place. The Cradle Choir continues to thrive online, and our community choir Torch Voices moved online as Torch 'Virtual' Voices, entertaining over 45,000 people from across the world with our weekly singalongs. We have also embraced digital technology to stream shows such as a live streamed event with comedian Daniel Kitson, McDougall’s Christmas Party and a virtual production of Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray with big names such as Stephen Fry and Joanna Lumley.
The Torch Youth Theatre have also launched a new Memory Box project, requesting people from the town of Milford Haven to get in touch and share their stories of past and present. These will then be produced into a short nostalgia piece, performed by the Youth Theatre when it is safe to return to the building.
The Torch’s Executive Director, Benjamin Lloyd, said:
“The Torch is a vital resource for the region with artists, audiences, community groups and local businesses dependant on the theatre for opportunity, entertainment, engagement and prosperity. This has been a really challenging year for the theatre, our staff and our community, but we are hopeful that we will see our audiences return soon, and for the meantime we continue to support, engage and inspire via our online innovations and through good old fashioned storytelling in the form of our latest project, The Pembrokeshire Story. We miss you all and once we get the go-ahead to reopen we will be ready and waiting with open arms and our exciting and accessible programme for all.”
One year on, Creu Cymru Director Louise Miles-Payne said:
“We wanted to unite theatres across Wales and what better way to do that than with a rainbow. It is a symbol that we are still here and waiting for the return of our audiences, staff, and performers."
"Theatres and arts centres play a vital role in the arts economy in Wales. From small studios to big-budget stages, theatre and the performing arts are part of the fabric of Welsh life. Towns, villages and cities the breadth of Wales, have and use theatres for more than seeing a show – they are spaces for many different groups in the community to come together to learn, socialise and create. Theatres are often the heartbeat of the local community. They bring people together to laugh, cry, rejoice and learn. They have continued to do this during this uncertain time.”
“We’ve been working closely with Welsh Government Officials and the Deputy Minister on the safe reopening of our theatres. We hope that this will be allowed soon when the situation improves”.
The #WeMissYou #HiraethuAmdanat campaign organised by Creu Cymru is being supported by venues across Wales with celebrity performers sharing how much they miss their theatres on social media.
In a social media post supporting RCT Theatres, Callum Scott Howells, who recently played one of the key parts as Colin in Channel 4’s “It’s a Sin” said “I am so proud of our local theatres, RCT Theatres, in particular the Park and Dare. I feel like that is where my heart belongs. And over this past year, we haven’t had the opportunity to go to see amazing productions there, and how gutting is that there will have been a year in our lives when we couldn’t go to the Park and Dare. All I can say is #WeMissYou but we are going to be back soon, and we are going to be back stronger than ever”.
Supporting Theatr Felinfach in the #WeMissYou #HiraethuAmdanat campaign, Grand Slam and Rownd a Rownd actor, and musician, Dewi Pws said “What I miss about the theatre are Welsh language plays, live bands, the warmth of the audience, laughing, crying but most of all the thing I miss is the BAR”.
Amanda Griffiths, Box Office Assistant at the Torch added:
“What I miss about not going to The Torch Theatre is the chance to see a much-loved play or musical live on stage - there is nothing quite like the opening notes of a live concert or the intensity of a dramatic theatrical production, and the shared reaction of an audience!”
The Torch Theatre is waiting for further Welsh Government guidance to know when we will be able to open again to the public. Once this is confirmed, we will share our plans with you.