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In March 2020, in the middle of the tour of The Department of Distractions, we took what at the time seemed like a difficult decision to cancel the rest of the performances for that month. Difficult because cancelling shows is the opposite of what we exist for, and The Department of Distractions feels to us like a timely show that we are really proud of, and which has been connecting strongly with audiences in each venue it has travelled to.

But it felt wrong to put our cast in the position where they were going to have to continue to travel long distances on public transport, and we felt a social responsibility not to encourage people to gather in a theatre. So we made the decision, even though we were gutted that the show would not get to meet audiences in Manchester, Edinburgh and Cambridge. We’re sorry if you were hoping to see the show in one of those cities. It’s not the same of course, but the script is available here.

Sadly we also had to cancel the last two workshops of Future Makers ’20, which had been going brilliantly at Theatre Deli and Sheffield Hallam Uni in the previous weeks. After making these decisions, though, it became clear that much of the rest of our industry was thinking along similar lines, and very quickly more seasons and tours were being cancelled or postponed.

After making these announcements, we gathered all of our free-to-watch video work together in our Film Room, to make it easier for our audiences to access. We’ve also started getting these projects captioned – we’ll be adding more soon.

Since then we have also had to cancel the remaining performances of 600 People in May and October, and cancel the next planned outings of The Desire Paths in Rotherham and Bedford this summer and autumn. We hope that many of these gigs will be rescheduled for next year. We have paused work on the next touring show for theatres, originally planned for early 2021.

We’ve been taking stock, and planning for the immediate future. Our priorities for the rest of 2020 are:

  • to ensure that the company survives, and is able to continue to create artistic and participation projects in the future.
  • to support the emotional and physical welfare of our staff and their families.
  • taking the opportunities for learning.
  • supporting freelance artists and the wider Third Angel family.
  • planning activity in response to the new cultural and social landscape.

As a company fortunate enough to be in Arts Council England’s National Portfolio, and eligible for the government’s furlough scheme, we will be able to survive the year. By furloughing all salaried staff, at different times, during the spring and summer, we will be able to ensure that we have the resources to employ some of our freelance team on new projects in the autumn and at the start of 2021.

After some re-working, we are very pleased to still be running Arts Award, in collaboration with Growtheatre and Stacey Sampson.

We’re heavily involved in Making Room with other Sheffield companies, with the aim of supporting the wider community of Sheffield artists and freelancers.

Over the next few months the company will be fairly quiet, with only one or two of us at work most of the time. We’ll be back ready for new projects in autumn 2020 and spring 2021, and also thinking longer term about what performance and theatre can do to help in a post-Covid-19 world.

We’ll keep you posted on our plans here.

Thanks for reading, stay safe,

The Third Angel Team

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