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After the interval: theatre gets ready to rise again as curtain lifts after lockdown

Theatre directors have found ingenious ways to respond to the Covid-19 challenge as the curtain is about to be lifted on live performances once more, writes Katy Hayes

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Shortened run: Niall Buggy and David Ganly in Fishamble’s On Blueberry Hill. Photo by Marc Brenner

Shortened run: Niall Buggy and David Ganly in Fishamble’s On Blueberry Hill. Photo by Marc Brenner

Opening new doors: Garry Hynes from Galway'
s Druid Theatre Company. Photo by Tony Gavin

Opening new doors: Garry Hynes from Galway' s Druid Theatre Company. Photo by Tony Gavin

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Shortened run: Niall Buggy and David Ganly in Fishamble’s On Blueberry Hill. Photo by Marc Brenner

All the arts have taken a hit during the pandemic, but anything involving live performance has received a particular pummelling.

Studio sessions can provide musicians with some alleviation. Writers can still write, though many elements of the literary business, such as public readings and festivals, have disappeared. But the absolute core of the theatre industry has been attacked. In the words of director Garry Hynes: "Theatre is by definition infectious; one actor infecting another actor infecting an audience. It demands assembly - it demands that people be close."

The theatrical world is all about problem-solving. Your average theatre maker is often as much a magician as a miracle worker. You need a waterfall on stage: some theatre design genius will concoct one. You need a lot of cameos: some gifted actor will reinvent themselves over and over. You need to change the mood abruptly: an audio designer will do that with the utmost subtlety and stealth. But fightback against a pandemic? It's a tall order.