Keep em keeping on…

I wear a mask. I always have. I possibly always will do.

I also have had COVID. Most of those closest to me have also had the positive test from the throat and back of the nose jobby.

It was unpleasant and it was uncomfortable, but it was a reminder of how easily we can fall ill. Our family home was in lockdown for over three weeks as one got it, past it on to another who then past it further… Sharing is caring…

But I do not wear the mask because I want to protect myself.

I realise that the people I see daily, in the shops, on the trains and in a plethora of other public spaces where they are caught unable to escape contact with the general public, need that protection.

Nowhere is that more obvious than front of house staff in a theatre. They need our protection to limit or reduce the risk they face from being infected. I don’t sit and listen to the nonsense that it is just like a cold – it isn’t – or that we need to just live with it – we do, but we can work hard to limit it – and help protect those who keep our theatres going.

The fact that theatre across the United Kingdom is going to retain the need for theatre goers to wear a mask is a good thing. It is an important element of supporting theatres and the people who keep them open. I think it is therefore a very good thing.

Last year I spent a lot of time watching theatre from my desk. It was comfortable and I felt I was contributing. The audio plays I listened to were great and it was a delight and a joy to have them in my ears.

But when I went back to the Fringe in 2021 and spent time in Edinburgh walking round that city to see real live people with real live theatre in my sights, that was my reason for reviewing. I felt as though my home had been reopened and I was back in the comfortable living room without the screen. It was contact and it was comfort and it was theatre.

Of course, not all of it was spectacular, thankfully. It reminded me that we are in a process and that watching the development of the arts and supporting them in the way we do is just as much part of the democratic process, the invective of debate and the thrust of communication as it should always be.

Wearing a mask to engage with that process is not too much to pay, in fact it feels too little. I shan’t clap at 8pm on any night to support live performances but shall clap wildly in theatres at live events to celebrate that I had COVID and like me, theatre has come through the other end and it is time to truly create once more.

Cannae wait, just cannae wait…