Aberdeen Arts Centre has staged one of the first theatre productions performed in front of live audiences in Scotland since lockdown restrictions were eased.
After so many show cancellations and rescheduled gigs over the past year, staff were delighted to once again be able to welcome local theatre-lovers to the King Street venue.
Artie Trezise of Artie’s Singing Kettle was the first performer to take to the Arts Centre stage on Saturday (May 29).
Performing in front of socially distanced families and cheering and clapping children, Artie said he was thrilled to be back on the road.
Goodbye Zoom parties, hello live shows
He said: “I’m excited for myself – I’m being very very selfish. I have been performing – I have been doing a lot online – but this is the first time I’ve been performing live to an audience for a long long time. So, from a personal point of view, it’s great.
“The audience today were absolutely fantastic, they seemed to love it, too.
“I think the audience were even more excited than I was about getting a live event going again.
“And the Aberdeen audience for me are always the best. They know what I’m doing and they know my mission is to get people singing and Aberdonians love to sing, so it’s a great match.”
Having fun while keeping safe
Trying to engage with audience members as much as possible while making sure everyone was safe, Artie got children – as well as their parents and grandparents – clapping, playing imaginary instruments, and standing up and sitting down.
It was lovely to see adults sticking to the Covid-19 safety rules and taking their children to what may have been their first theatre show.
Only interacting with their household, audience members were seated in separate pods, rows away from other friends and families.
Once the show was over, the Arts Centre manager asked everyone to stay in their seats and the venue’s volunteers escorted each pod to the exit to make sure people weren’t queuing.
Aberdeen Arts Centre welcomes return of live theatre
With theatres, arts centres and music venues finally emerging from the third UK lockdown, Aberdeen Arts Centre manager Stephanie Walls is grateful the industry is slowly but surely recovering from the coronavirus crisis.
She said: “It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been attempting to get ready to do this for almost a year. We’ve got a little bit of funding from the Theatres Trust who socially-distanced our auditorium.
“We’ve had these pods in situ, we were hoping to be able to do pantomime back in December and because of the lockdown it never happened, so it’s so exciting we’re finally here.
“The show was amazing, the kids had such a good time and Artie is just an absolute pro and it is so lovely that he wanted to come and do this for us – it’s been really fantastic.”
While Stephanie and her staff couldn’t wait to welcome locals back to the theatre, they wanted to make sure it was safe to do so.
She said: “The building really lends itself to a one-way system – there’s one way in and one way out – it helps us keep everybody two metres apart and socially distanced.”
The auditorium’s capacity has also been reduced from 350 to 150, with the cap sitting on 100 audience members at the moment.
Many more shows to look forward to
Now that live theatre has officially returned to the north-east, Stephanie hopes more locals will feel safe and encouraged to see other productions.
She said: “We have lots more to come. At the moment, we’ve got the amazing The McDougalls – they’re going to be with us in June, it’s a wonderful little family show.
“Aberdeen College of Performing Arts are doing a family pantomime on June 12 called Snow.”
The Arts Centre will also screen the iconic American teen comedy film Mean Girls this Wednesday (June 2).
Stephanie added: “And we’ve also got the first professional in-house production since 2019 which is called Easy Money – it’s a nice fluffy light entertainment piece done in a style of a vintage radio play.”
The show takes place on July 16 and 17 and tickets are now on sale here.