Catherine Văn-Davies and Sofia Nolan in STC's Playing Beatie Bow. Photo: Daniel Boud
The NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard has granted Sydney Theatre Company an exemption to return to 100 per cent capacity at its Walsh Bay venues - almost exactly one year after the industry was shut down due to COVID-19. The company is the first live performance venue in the state to be once again performing to full houses.
The exemption comes into effect in time for the current season of Playing Beatie Bow, now running at the company’s newly renovated home at The Wharf, and upcoming seasons of Appropriate and Fun Home will open at full capacity in March and April.
The exemption has been granted in response to the company’s exemplary COVID-safe policies and procedures that have been in place since it returned to the stage in September 2020 with its production of Wonnangatta.
STC's Executive Director Patrick McIntyre said: "This is big news for us and we are extremely grateful to Minister Hazzard and the NSW Government for the trust they have placed in the company. Sydney is more or less the theatre capital of the world right now and we are incredibly heartened by the strong demand we are seeing from audiences. The ability to sell to full capacity is a crucial next step for us on the road to recovery.”
Artistic Director Kip Williams, whose show Playing Beatie Bow - an adaptation by Kate Mulvany of the classic Ruth Park novel - opened to glowing reviews last week, said the news about increased audience capacity could not have come at a better time.
"People have not only been away from our Wharf theatres for 2.5 years, but some people have been away from theatre all together for a year, so there’s a double welcome home in this show,” Williams said. “We're thrilled to be able to say we're one of the few theatres in the country, let alone the world, who have bounced back and returned to 100 per cent capacity within the year."
STC cancelled all productions in mid-March 2020 as the coronavirus situation escalated and remained closed for six months. The company has come back strongly since September, buoyed by strong demand from ticket buyers.
New seats on sale
Additional tickets for Playing Beatie Bow, Appropriate and Fun Home will go on sale from Tuesday 9 March. While houses will be sold to full capacity, STC will continue to take enhanced health and safety precautions in venues including hand sanitiser stations in foyers and mandatory mask-wearing while watching a performance. Ticket holders will be reminded of COVID related policies and procedures prior to attending each performance.
Thirties program relaunches
In time for the new release of tickets, STC has also announced it will relaunch its ‘Thirties’ program that offers an allocation of tickets at just $30 across all performances. Launched in 2013, the program has enabled thousands of theatre goers to experience the magic of live theatre at an accessible price, allowing many to come to the theatre for the first time. Every Thursday at 9am, an allocation of $30 tickets will be released for the following week’s performances. The first ‘Thirties' offer for Playing Beatie Bow will go on sale from Thursday 11 March for the following week’s performances. Check the STC website www.sydneytheatre.com.au for more details.