On March 16th 2020, Theatres across the country went dark. Doors were closed and performers were out of a job due to the severity caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Many shows closed prematurely, never to re-open, and theatre staff, including onstage, backstage and front of house all had to look for other work in order to survive.

The theatre industry in the UK employs over 270,000 people, many of whom were unable to receive any kind of support from the government during the pandemic. The Theatre Support Fund+ was founded by Chris Marcus and Damien Stanton in May 2020, in order to help many of the people hardest hit by the pandemic.

Unfortunately, we are still seeing the after-effects of the COVID years in the theatre industry, with casts still being struck by outbreaks of COVID, Theatres struggling to sell tickets, and shows still having to close prematurely.

One amateur theatre company has taken it upon itself to help in whatever way they can. The Griffin Players are the Longest running Amateur Theatre Company in the Luton and Dunstable area. Being only a 30 minute train ride from the heart of London’s West End, they saw firsthand exactly how much professionals in the Theatre industry were impacted by the pandemic.

Their next production will be used to help raise much needed money for the Theatre Support Fund+, to give help in their own way. ‘Live! Griffin’s West End’ will showcase all that the West End has to offer, with songs from musicals currently performing in the heart of London’s magnificent Theatre District. Featuring songs from Shows including ‘Dear Evan Hansen’, ‘Anything Goes’, ‘Wicked’, ‘Sister Act’ and many more, ‘Live! Griffin’s West End’ will be bringing the famous theatre district straight to the stage of the Little Theatre in Dunstable.

The director of the show, Katy Elliott, was very passionate about why they have chosen to support the Theatre Support Fund+. ‘During the Corona virus pandemic, the arts, including theatre was hit hard. As an amateur group it was heartbreaking to not to be able to perform musicals, which not only impacted the group financially, but also took a toll on the mental health of our members. For professional theatre the effect was even more devastating, with those who had dedicated their lives to the theatre and arts suddenly without jobs, an income or a purpose.’ Katy explained ‘Despite the pandemic officially being at its end, the impact and ongoing challenges that this virus and the current cost of living crisis brings means that the arts are still feeling the effects. The pandemic did show us how significant the arts are for many people and therefore if we can support them in any way, then we should. The Theatre Support Fund+ is vital in supporting those hardest hit, and as fellow lovers of theatre, I feel it is so important that we support them where we can.’

‘Live! Griffin’s West End’ is being performed at The Little Theatre in Dunstable from 6th-8th October. Tickets are £12 for Adults and £10 for Concessions. Money will be raised on the night to support Theatre Support Fund+.

Tickets can be purchased via www.ticketsource.co.uk/griffinplayers

For more information about Theatre Support Fund+ and the amazing work that they do, visit www.theatresupportfund.co.uk


By Joshua Thompson