‘Stay Safe, Be Creative’ - Kenneth More Theatre’s motto during lockdown is guiding light to keeping theatre alive in Ilford

Ilford’s Kenneth More Theatre has come up with innovative solutions to continue to hold safe, live performances despite Covid restrictions.

Since the theatre held its grand re-opening show in August it has started to resume live productions following government guidelines on how to keep the venue open despite the borough being in a High-Tier 2 level of restrictions.

The theatre is installing equipment so that it could offer live-streams of its Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs panto, which is set to begin on December 9.

And it is setting up an app that allows customers to be able to order drinks directly from their seats, therefore minimising the risk of people from different households interacting with each other at the bar.

Head of theatre Sally Polden told the Recorder the plans to live-stream panto have been in the works since the beginning of lockdown to give access to people who don’t feel ready to come out and in case we are in another lockdown by then.

She said: “Our motto throughout has been Stay Safe, Be Creative and we’ve tried to keep that in mind with everything we’re doing to be able to safely stay open and forge ahead, giving job security to freelancers who would otherwise be unemployed within the arts this Christmas.”

Regardless of what happens she is guaranteeing at least two and a half weeks of paid work for the cast and crew of the panto while they set it up but is hoping to be able to employ them for the entire eight-week run.

She sees the live-streaming ability as a key to the Oakfield Road theatre moving forward regardless of what happens with coronavirus.

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“We are really excited to be able to offer it to schools and care homes and to people that couldn’t normally come through our doors, even after the pandemic is behind us.”

For the panto 85 children auditioned for the roles of the seven dwarfs. Twenty-one were chosen to make up three sets of seven dwarfs.

Each child’s temperature is taken before each rehearsal and the three sets of children don’t mix.

Sally said: “We would rather go overboard just to make sure. So far we have had 450 members a week going through our drama centre every week and touch wood, no one has fallen ill.”

For more information on the theatre’s upcoming schedule visit https://redbridgedramacentre.co.uk/RedbridgeDramaCentre.dll/WhatsOn

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